Why World War One?

The long Failure of Western Arms.

Hello, says God,

Rupert Brooke The Soldier. (Brooke died on the way to the War in the Greek islands from an infected mosquito bite.)

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

Atrocities by Siegfried Sassoon in the censored and uncensored versions.


You told me, in your drunken-boasting mood,

How once you butchered prisoners. That was good!

I'm sure you felt no pity while they stood

Patient and cowed and scared, as prisoners should.

How did you do them in? Come, don't be shy:

You know I love to hear how Germans die,

Downstairs in dug-outs. "Camerad!" they cry;

Then squeal like stoats when bombs begin to fly.

And you? I know your record. You went sick

When orders looked unwholesome: then, with trick

And lie, you wangled home. And here you are,

Still talking big and boozing in a bar.

You bragged how once your men in savage mood

butchered some Saxon prisioners. That was good!

I trust you felt no pity when they stood

Patient and cowed and scared, as prisoners should.

How did you kill them? Speak and don’t be shy:

You know I love to hear how Germans die,

downstairs in dug outs. “Camerad!” they cry;

and squeal like stoats when bombs begin to fly.

I’m proud of you. Perhaps you’ll feel as brave

Alone in no man’s land where none can save

or shield you from the horror of the night.

There’s blood upon your hands; go out and fight.

I hope those Huns will haunt you with their screams

And make you gulp their blood in goulish dreams.

You’re great at murder. Tell me can you fight?

Wilfred Owen On Seeing a Piece of Our Artillery Brought into Action

Be slowly lifted up, thou long black arm,
Great gun towering towards Heaven, about to curse;
Sway steep against them, and for years rehearse
Huge imprecations like a blasting charm!
Reach at that Arrogance which needs thy harm,
And beat it down before its sins grow worse;
Spend our resentment, cannon,--yea, disburse
Our gold in shapes of flame, our breaths in storm.
Yet, for men's sakes whom thy vast malison
Must wither innocent of enmity,
Be not withdrawn, dark arm, thy spoilure done,
Safe to the bosom of our prosperity.
But when thy spell be cast complete and whole,
May God curse thee, and cut thee from our soul! 

We sell for Britain.

Let us explain the good we try to do.

We want to sell as many arms abroad

As possible to make us British rich.

The arms may kill some people round the world,

Perhaps a million in a decade but

Only because they use them. It's their fault,

Not ours. We make the guns and fill the bombs

With high explosives, but they stay quite safe

Until they drop them on civilian groups 

And kill them. We could not expect that arms

Would be deployed in line with their design.

We planned deterrence and a quiet life,

And that is why we made the weapons work

Not to be used or kill. We work for peace. 

Hello, says God,

Hello, says God, I do not understand.

I guess my intellect is limited,

And that the cosmos made me rather tired,

But still it seems that weapons are no use.

They blow up people and this nuclear stuff

I made for stars and not the delicate

Creation that I made your home.

Why spend those billions buying weapons from

Arms firms who worship Mammon, getting rich

While driving horses through my sixth Command.

Do you like wars, and have you not worked out

That bombs create a lot of CO2?

I think that peace is quite a good idea.

Destroy your arms and try my will be done.

Bob Dylan Masters of War c1962/3

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks.

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly.

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain.

You fasten all the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you sit back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion'
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud.

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins.

How much do I know
To talk out of turn?
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do.

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul.

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand o’er your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead.