Edgar Albert Guest

20 August 1881 - 5 August 1959 / Birmingham / England

A Personal View Of War

I NEVER pondered much on war,
Except to think it was inspiring
To have a cause to battle for,
To hear the guns and cannons firing;
To see brave men rush up to death
Without a sign or trace of terror,
To give their country blood and breath,
But now I know it's all an error;
War is a frightful thing I know,
What if my boy should have to go?

Last night I leaned above his crib
And spent a little while in playing,
tickled him beneath his bib,
And watched his little body swaying
With innocent delight, and then
It seemed I heard the noise of battle,
The wails and shrieks of dying men,
The cannons' boom, the muskets' rattle,
And shuddered as I stooped down low,
What if my babe some day must go?

War did not seem a splendid thing,
There was no glory in the fighting,
No thrill in hearing bullets sing,
No joy in men each other smiting.
I saw but heartache, and the grave,
And misery and desolation,
As splendid fellows, bold and brave,
Were sacrificed unto the nation;
I wept with men of long ago
Whose boys marched out to face the foe.

I used to think that war was grand
That bugle calls were splendid, thrilling;
But now I know and understand,
They sound the message to start killing.
And when I ponder now on war
'Tis but to see the terror of it,
The glory that I saw before
Has vanished in the error of it.
War may have seemed a brilliant show,
It's different when your own may go!
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