Weary, and wounded, and worn,
Wounded, and ready to die,
A soldier was left, all alone and forlorn,
On the field of battle to lie.
The dead and the dying alone
Could their presence and pity afford,
Whilst with a sad and sorrowful tone,
He sang this “Song of the Sword.”
Fight, fight, fight!
Tho’ a thousand fathers die,
Fight, fight, fight!
Tho’ thousands of children cry.
Fight, fight, fight!
Tho’ mothers and wives lament,
Fight, fight, fight!
Tho’ millions of money are spent.
Fight, fight, fight!
Should the cause be foul or fair,
And all that is gained is an empty name
And an empty tax to bear.
An empty name, and a paltry fame,
And thousands lying dead,
Whilst every glorious victory
Must raise the price of bread.
War, war, war!
Fire, and famine, and sword,
Desolate fields and desolate towns,
And thousands scattered abroad,
With never a home and never a shed,
And kingdoms perish and fall –
Hundreds of thousands are lying dead,
And all for nothing at all.
War, war, war!
Musket, and powder, and ball,
Ah, what do we fight so for?
Ah, why have we battles at all?
‘Tis justice must be done, they say,
A nation’s honour to keep.
Alas! that justice is so dear,
And human life so cheap!
War, war, war!
Misery, murder, and crime
Are all the blessings I’ve seen in thee,
From my youth to the present time.
Misery, murder, and crime!
Crime, misery, murder, and woe!
Ah, that I’d known in my younger days
A tenth of what I now know!
Ah, that I’d known in my earlier days,
In my hours of boyish glee,
A tenth of the horrors and crimes of war,
A tithe of its misery,
I now had been joining a happy band
Of wife and children dear,
And I had died in my native land,
Instead of dying here.
And many a long, long day of woe,
And sleepless nights untold,
And drenching rain and drifting snow,
And weariness, famine, and cold,
And worn-out limbs and aching heart,
And grief too great to tell,
And bleeding wound and piercing smart,
Had I not known full well.
Weary, and wounded, and worn,
Wounded and ready to die,
A soldier was left all alone and forlorn
On the field of battle to lie.
The dead and the dying alone
Could their presence and pity afford,
Whilst in a sad and terrible tone
(Ah, would that these truths were more perfectly known!)
He sang this “Song of the Sword”

Title:The Song of the Sword

Author:Arthur J. Munby

Publication:The Bolton Chronicle

Published in:Bolton

Date:June 27th 1863



This passionately anti-war poem is a parody of Thomas Hood’s (1799-1845) ‘The Song of the Shirt’. It is similar in form and replaces the original’s refrain ‘work, work, work’ with terms related to conflict. The original poem was an influential work which highlighted the industrial process that went into textile garments and the miserable conditions many laboured under. This version takes the passion of the original and transfers it to the context of military conflict, again focussing on an individual – this time a young soldier. Lancashire people were acutely aware that the American Civil War, as well as causing their own hardship through unprecedented levels of unemployment, rapidly became the bloodiest war the world had ever seen. – SR