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Each day, Newspaper History presents a poem that appeared in an American Newspaper 108 years ago.

War

From the Albuquerque Morning Journal, November 20, 1914. By Bennett Chapple.

Gone is the vaunted banner that proclaimed the world for peace,
The mask is torn asunder and all Hell has seen release.
The heat of age-old anger now has cracked the thin veneer,
Ten million men are targets—and all Europe is a bier.
The mighty guns are booming in their terrifying voice,
They cut the field like reapers—and the soldiers have no choice.
They face the rain of bullets, and with manhood’s stalwart zeal
They march with very souls aflame through jaws of glistening steel.

Theirs but to fall in windrows deep, cut down by scythes of lead,
Till truce piles high the harvest there in gory stacks of dead.
Napoleon took two million lives before he drank his dregs;
“To make an omelet,” he said, “you have to break some eggs.”
Ten million men now face the guns—an omelet, in truth—
Ten million sturdy warriors so full of strength and youth,
Ten million in uniform, stirred to heroic deeds,
Ten million men in league with death while Christ in pity pleads.

The proud world hangs its heartsick head at such a gruesome sight;
The grim old skeleton of war once more has come to light,
And savagery has brushed aside all civilizing creed,
Turned back the clock a hundred years to let the nations bleed.
What is this pride of nations that will pay such awful price?
What is this commerce of the world that asks such sacrifice?
Oh, is it worth the candle that the sombre altars light
When men—perhaps a million men—are victims of the fight?


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