Home > Uncategorized > C. F. Harper: Song of the Battleships

C. F. Harper: Song of the Battleships

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

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C. F. Harper
Song of the Battleships

Mind of man, what have you wrought
From the ribs of mother earth –
From the soil that gave you birth?
Mind of man, what have you wrought?

You have builded mighty navies; you have made the sea your slave, –
And the booming of your cannon strikes the crest of every wave;

You have dug into the bowels of the earth’s eternal hills,
Tearing out the stubborn metals for the grinding of your mills;

For the forging of your hammers, for the blowing of your blasts,
For the making of your armor, for the building of your masts;

For the guns whose rolling thunders frighten half a world in awe, –
Shouting out the fateful message, “Right is Might, and Might is Law.”

Oh, the guns, great guns,
Shooting forty million tons;
Shooting death, and shooting hell!
Aim, you gunners, aim them well.

You have slaved a million freemen for the digging of your coal,
For your engines throbbing wildly, like a panting human Soul.

You have chained the ragged lightning, and you hold it in your hand;
By the pressing of a button you can devastate a land.

Oh, the fury of your anger! Oh, the pent-up seas of blood
That shall wet the ocean’s battles with a gory human flood!

Oh, the booming of your cannon: shall slay,
When the wrath of man is loosened in a frightful judgment day!

Mind of man, what have you wrought,
From the ribs of mother earth –
From the soil that gave you birth?
Mind of man, what have you wrought?

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