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The Coming War

Tank

SEACOAST POEMS

Humorist Sam Foss attended Portsmouth High School. That means we can dig out one of his classics whenever we see some connection to current events in the 21st century. Here the Yankee poet worries that a distant war might lead to a closer war. In his case, it turned out to be World War I.

 

 

You may remember the poem by Sam Walter Foss about the train cutting through the Yankee farmer’s yard ? The farmer tries to stop the "abomination" and is ignored. He gets a gun, and he’s arrested. The more the poor soul tries to stand against the inevitable, the worse his life gets. Resistance is futile. We shall all be assimilated.

Poets of PortsmouthAnother Sam Foss poem on a similar theme comes to mind this week. This time the narrator is railing, not against the railroad, but against the coming war in Europe. Pull out the word "Europe", stick in the word "Iraq" – and you’ve got yourself a recycled poem. Here the narrator gets run over, not only by the military industrial complex, but by his dear Yankee wife, who has a lot more important things for him to think about.

Sam Foss, a Candia, NH native, attended high school in Portsmouth, which is how he rates this reprint in the SeacoastNH.com. He is best remembered for his poem, "The House by the Side of the Road." In Foss’s time, the late 19th and early 20th century, he was one of the country’s most popular poets. He was widely published in newspapers, where he got his start. Towards the end of his career his poetry readings and lectures were quite successful in the midwest where Yankee humor is a popular import. -- JDR

ALSO BY SAM FOSS: The Railroad Through the Farm

THE COMING WAR
By Sam Walter Foss (1856 - 1911)

"There will be a war in Europe,
Thrones will be rent and overturned,"
("Go and fetch a pail of water," said his wife)."Nations shall go down in slaughter,
Ancient capitals be burned,"
("Hurry up and split the kindlings," said his wife)."Cities wrapped in conflagration!
Nation decimating nation!
Chaos crashing through creation!"
("Go along and feed the chickens," said his wife)."And the war shall reach to Asia,
And the Orient be rent,"
("When you going to pay the grocer?" says his wife)."And the myrmidons of thunder
Shake the trembling continent,"
("Hurry up and beat them carpets," said his wife)."Million myriads invading,
Rapine, rioting, and raiding,
Conquest, carnage, cannonading!"
("Wish you'd come and stir this puddin'," said his wife)."Oh, it breaks my heart, this conflict
Of the Slav and Celt and Dane,"
("Bob has stubbed his rubber boots on," said his wife)."Oh, the draggled Russian banners!
Oh, the chivalry of Spain!"
("We have got no more molasses," said his wife)."See the marshalled millions led on
With no bloodless sod to tread on,
Gog and Magog! Armageddon!"
("Hurry up and get a yeast cake," said his wife)."Oh, the grapple of the nations,
It is coming, woe is me!"
("Did you know we're out of flour?" said his wife)."Oh, the many-centuried empires
Overwhelmed in slaughter's sea!"
("Wish you'd go and put the cat out," said his wife)."Death and dreadful dissolution
Wreak their awful execution,
Carnage, anarchy, confusion!"
("Let me have two cents for needles," said his wife."All my love goes out to Europe,
And my heart is torn and sad,"
("How can I keep house on nothing?" said his wife)."O, the carnival of carnage,
O, the battle, malestrom mad!"
("Wish you'd battle for a living," said his wife)."Down in smoke and blood and thunder,
While the stars look on in wonder,
Must these empires all go under?"
("Where're we going to get our dinner?" said his wife).

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