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(learned orally and from Lift Every Voice, edited by Irwin Silber;
words and music by Sam Goldberg)

(staff with melody)

There's something in your face, Michael, that wasn't there before
It's something queer that wasn't there when first you went to war
    It's just the army life, mother, the drill, the left, the right,
    That puts the stiffenin' in your spine, and locks your jaws up tight.

There's something in your heart, Michael, that makes you wake at night,
And when I hear you moanin' so, it trembles me with fright.
    It's just a man I killed, mother, a mother's son like me,
    It seems he's always haunting me and will not let me be.

But maybe he was bad, Michael, and maybe it was right
To kill the enemy you hate in fair and honest fight.
    But I did not hate at all, mother, he never done me harm,
    I think he was a lad like me who worked upon a farm.

Then what's it all about, Michael, why did you have to go?
A simple, gentle lad like you, and we were happy so?
    It's them that's up above, mother, it's them that sits and rules,
    We have to fight the wars they make, it's we who are the fools.

And when will it all end, Michael, and when will fighting cease?
And simple folk can live and love and till the soil in peace?
    It's comin' soon, and soon, mother, it's nearer ev'ry day,
    When only those who work and sweat will have a word to say;
    When all who earn their honest bread in ev'ry land and soil
    Will claim the brotherhood of man, the comradeship of toil;
When we the people all demand, What are we fighting for?
It's then will end that stupid crime, the devil's madness, war.

(from miriam berg's folksong collection)