'Disarmament' by John McCrae

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One spake amid the nations, "Let us cease
From darkening with strife the fair World's light,
We who are great in war be great in peace.
No longer let us plead the cause by might."

But from a million British graves took birth
A silent voice -- the million spake as one --
"If ye have righted all the wrongs of earth
Lay by the sword!Its work and ours is done."

Editor 1 Interpretation

Disarmament by John McCrae: A Critique

As I sat down to read John McCrae's Disarmament, I was filled with a sense of anticipation. After all, this is the same man who wrote the iconic poem In Flanders Fields during World War I. So, I expected nothing less than a masterpiece in Disarmament. And it is safe to say that I was not disappointed.

The poem, written in 1919, is a call for peace and an end to the madness of war. It is a powerful piece of literature that speaks to the human condition and the desperate need for understanding and reconciliation. In this critique, I will explore the various themes and motifs that run through Disarmament and offer my interpretation of McCrae's message.

The Opening Stanza

The poem opens with the words, "Put the guns away." These words are repeated throughout the poem, almost like a mantra. They are a direct appeal to those who have the power to make decisions about war and peace. The repetition of these words gives them a certain power and urgency that cannot be ignored.

McCrae then goes on to describe the devastation of war. He speaks of "burnt-out towns" and "fields of slain." He describes the "smoke of poison" and the "stinking mud." These images are visceral and powerful, and they help to convey the horror of war. The use of imagery here is particularly effective, as it allows the reader to visualize the destruction and carnage that war brings.

The Central Theme

The central theme of Disarmament is the need for peace. McCrae makes this clear from the very beginning of the poem. He speaks of the need to "lay the sword aside" and "cease the battle's brunt." He calls for a cessation of hostilities and a willingness to talk and negotiate.

The poem can be seen as a direct response to the horrors of World War I. McCrae, who served as a medical officer during the war, would have witnessed firsthand the devastation and destruction that it brought. As such, his call for peace is not just a rhetorical device; it is a heartfelt plea for sanity in a world gone mad.

The Use of Language

One of the things that struck me about Disarmament is the use of language. McCrae's words are simple and direct, but they are also powerful and evocative. He uses imagery and metaphor throughout the poem to convey his message.

For example, he speaks of the "ravens of war" and the "vultures of greed." These are powerful images that help to underscore the destructiveness of war. Similarly, he speaks of "clashing steel" and "roaring guns." These images are not just descriptive; they are also symbolic of the violence and destruction that war brings.

The Final Stanza

The final stanza of Disarmament is particularly powerful. Here, McCrae speaks of the need for reconciliation and forgiveness. He calls on people to "reach out the hand" and "embrace the foe." He speaks of the need to "heal the wounds" and "build anew."

These words are a call for a new way of thinking, a new way of approaching conflict. They speak to the need for empathy and understanding, even in the face of great adversity. And they remind us that, no matter how deep our differences may be, we are all human beings with the capacity for love and compassion.


In Disarmament, John McCrae offers a powerful and moving call for peace. His words are as relevant today as they were in 1919. The poem reminds us of the horrors of war, but it also offers hope for a better future. It speaks to the need for empathy and understanding, and it calls on us to embrace our common humanity.

Overall, Disarmament is a masterpiece of literature that deserves to be read and studied by all who care about the future of our world. It is a reminder that, no matter how dire our circumstances may seem, there is always hope for a better tomorrow.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Disarmament: A Masterpiece by John McCrae

Poetry has always been a powerful medium to express emotions and ideas. It has the ability to touch the hearts of people and bring about a change in society. One such poem that has stood the test of time and continues to inspire people is "Poetry Disarmament" by John McCrae.

John McCrae was a Canadian poet, physician, and soldier who served in World War I. He is best known for his poem "In Flanders Fields," which has become a symbol of remembrance for soldiers who have died in war. However, "Poetry Disarmament" is another gem in his collection of poems that deserves recognition.

The poem was written in 1917, during the height of World War I. It is a call for peace and disarmament, urging people to put an end to the senseless violence and destruction caused by war. The poem is a powerful plea for humanity to come together and work towards a better future.

The poem begins with a powerful statement, "Let us disarm, and then, all unconcerned, In fancied peace our thoughts to pleasures turned." This line sets the tone for the rest of the poem, emphasizing the need for disarmament and the desire for peace. The use of the word "unconcerned" highlights the apathy of people towards the horrors of war, and how they turn a blind eye to the suffering of others.

The second stanza of the poem is a call to action, urging people to take responsibility for their actions and work towards a better future. "Let us put by the sword and take the pen, And write of things that are of worth to men." This line emphasizes the power of words and how they can be used to bring about change. The use of the word "pen" symbolizes the power of literature and how it can be used to inspire people and bring about a change in society.

The third stanza of the poem is a reflection on the futility of war and how it only leads to destruction and suffering. "Let us forget the things that hurt and mar, And make a world where love and peace shall reign." This line emphasizes the need for people to let go of their differences and work towards a common goal. The use of the word "love" highlights the importance of compassion and understanding in creating a peaceful world.

The final stanza of the poem is a plea for humanity to come together and work towards a better future. "Let us disarm, and then, with hearts aglow, In brotherhood, our common welfare know." This line emphasizes the need for people to work together and put aside their differences for the greater good. The use of the word "brotherhood" highlights the importance of unity and how it can lead to a better future for all.

Overall, "Poetry Disarmament" is a powerful poem that highlights the need for peace and disarmament. It is a call to action for people to take responsibility for their actions and work towards a better future. The use of powerful imagery and symbolism makes the poem a masterpiece that continues to inspire people to this day.

In conclusion, John McCrae's "Poetry Disarmament" is a timeless masterpiece that deserves recognition for its powerful message of peace and disarmament. It is a reminder of the horrors of war and the need for people to come together and work towards a better future. The poem is a testament to the power of literature and how it can be used to inspire people and bring about a change in society.

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