The Machine Gun

Hiram Maxim was born in Maine,

Embarking down a path which that

Gave us a gun that bore his name,

Rat-a-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat.


The British turned it down at first

Declaring that it would fall flat.

The Germans saw its murderous thirst,

Rat-a-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat.


Placed at the forefront of their lines

As a defence to all attack,

Yet on we marched despite the signs,

Rat-a-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat.


And those that charged fell to their grave,

So long before they could combat;

The bullets came on like a wave,

Rat-a-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat.


And on the blood-stained fields at Somme,

With venom were the lead globs spat;

The dead fell as a ghastly throng,

Rat-a-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat.


The mode of war had changed for good,

With no more games of mouse and cat;

The coolant was replaced with blood,

Rat-a-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat.


As time went past their kill rate grew,

The fields looked like a crimson mat;

Widows and orphans did accrue,

Rat-a-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat.


Yet knighted for his gears of war,

Maxim grew rich and then got fat;

Whilst countless boys would wake no more,

Rat-a-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat.

Hiram Maxime.
Sir Hiram Stevens Maxime (Photo Credit: Materialscientist)

This is a Kyrielle, written about Hiram Maxime, who in ~ 1884 invented the world’s first fully automated machine gun. A weapon which was responsible for the deaths of millions of people in World War One alone.

An audio version of this poem can be heard here.


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