When The Cannon Booms

by William Herbert Carruth

WHEN the cannon booms,
        When the war-drums rattle fiercely 
And the feet of men in khaki hammer 
        time out on the pave, 
It is easy to be brave; 
It is easy to believe that God is angry 
        with the other 
Man, our brother, 
And has left the sword of Gideon in our 
        wayward human hand, 
When the cannon booms. 
When the cannon booms,
When the battle-flags are fluttering and 
        men are going mad 
With the blind desire for glory, 
Filled with visions grand and gory 
It is easy to assent
To the Corsican blasphemer's scoffing 
It is easy to believe God is with the big 
                Whether cherubim or hellions, 
When the cannon booms. 
When the cannon booms,
When the primal love of fighting stirs 
        the tiger in our blood, 
And the fascinating smell 
Of the sulphur-fumes of hell 
Rouses memories of the pit from which 
        our human nature rose, 
It is easy to forget
God was not found in the earthquake, 
        in the strong wind or the fire; 
It is easy to forget how at last the 
        prophet heard Him 
As a still, small voice, 
When the cannon booms. 
When the cannon booms,
When the war-lords strut and swagger 
And the battle-ships are plowing for the 
        bitter crop of death, 
While the shouting rends the ear, 
     Echoing from the empyrean, 
It is difficult to hear 
     Through the din the Galilean 
With his calm voice preaching peace on 
        earth to men; 
'Twill be easier to claim, 
If we will, the Christian name, 
To become as little children and be men 
        of gentle will, 
When the cannon booms__the cannon
        boom,__no more.


Each in His Own Tongue
and Other Poems

William Herbert Carruth
(New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1909)

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