Poem issued during anti-conscription campaign, 1917. Written by W.R. Winspear.
Why is your face so white, mother?
Why do you choke for breath?
O I have dreamt in the night, my son
That I doomed a man to death
Why do you hide your hand, mother?
And crouch above it in dread?
It beareth a dreadful branch, my son
With the dead man's blood 'tis red
I hear his widow cry in the night
I hear his children weep
And always within my sight, O God!
The dead man's blood doth leap
They put the dagger into my grasp.
It seemed but a pencil then
I did not know it was a fiend a gasp
For the priceless blood of men
They gave me the ballot paper.
The grim death-warrant of doom,
And I smugly sentenced the man to death
In that dreadful little room.
I put it inside the Box of Blood
Nor thought of the man I'd slain
Till at midnight came like a whelming flood
God's word and Brand of Cain
O little son! O my little son!
Pray God for your Mother's soul
That the scarlet stain may be white again
In God's great Judgement Roll
For more information on W.R. Winspear see W.R. Winspear: Anarchist or Socialist? by Dr Bob James.
My Union Right or Wrong.
A history of the Ship Painters and Dockers Union 1900-1932
By Issy Wyner