Charles Mackay

(1814-1889 / Scotland)

Tubal Cain - Poem by Charles Mackay

OLD Tubal Cain was a man of might
In the days when earth was young:
By the fierce red light of his furnace bright
The strokes of his hammer rung;
And he lifted high his brawny hand
On the iron glowing clear,
Till the sparks rush'd out in scarlet showers,
As he fashion'd the sword and spear.
And he sang - 'Hurrah for my handiwork!
Hurrah for the spear and sword!
Hurrah for the hand that shall wield them well,
For he shall be king and lord!'

To Tubal Cain came many a one,
As he wrought by his roaring fire,
And each one pray'd for a strong steel blade
As the crown of his desire;
And he made them weapons sharp and strong,
Till they shouted loud for glee,
And gave him gifts of pearls and gold,
And spoils of the forest free.
And they sang - 'Hurrah for Tubal Cain,
Who hath given us strength anew!
Hurrah for the smith, hurrah for the fire,
And hurrah for the metal true!'

But a sudden change came o'er his heart
Ere the setting of the sun,
And Tubal Cain was fill'd with pain
For the evil he had done;
He saw that men, with rage and hate,
Made war upon their kind,
That the land was red with the blood they shed
In their lust for carnage, blind.
And he said - 'Alas! that ever I made,
Or that skill of mine should plan,
The spear and the sword for men whose joy
Is to slay their fellow-man!'

And for many a day old Tubal Cain
Sat brooding o'er his woe;
And his hand forebore to smite the ore,
And his furnace smoulder'd low.
But he rose at last with a cheerful face,
And a bright courageous eye,
And bared his strong right arm for work,
While the quick flames mounted high.
And he sang - 'Hurrah for my handiwork!'
And the red sparks lit the air;
'Not alone for the blade was the bright steel made;'
And he fashion'd the first ploughshare!

And men, taught wisdom from the past,
In friendship join'd their hands,
Hung the sword in the hall, the spear on the wall,
And plough'd the willing lands;
And sang - 'Hurrah for Tubal Cain!
Our stanch good friend is he;
And for the ploughshare and the plough
To him our praise shall be.
But while Oppression lifts its head,
Or a tyrant would be lord,
Though we may thank him for the plough,
We'll never forget the sword!'


Comments about Tubal Cain by Charles Mackay

  • Rajesh Thankappan (9/24/2016 11:26:00 PM)


    I am surprised that there is no comment made for this great poem as yet. This poem shows the contradictions and compulsions of human even if he were to purse an agenda of peace. Hat off for such a brilliant write. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Friday, September 17, 2010



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