Masters of War (1946) – Bob Dylan


About the singer:

Bob Dylan was a very popular singer-songwriter in the sixties. His protest songs were welcomed and appreciated by the Peace and Protest Movements. His two most famous protest songs against war are With God on our Side and Masters of War.

Listen to the song Masters of War and read along with the lyrics.
Answer the questions afterwards.

Use this cover by The RoJ LiGht for the exercise:

Use this one to listen to Dylan’s original song:


Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
5  You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks.

You that never done nothin’                              
10 But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it’s your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
15 And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly.

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
20 You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain.

25 You fasten all the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
30 As young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud.

You’ve thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
35 Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain’t worth the blood
40 That runs in your veins.

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I’m young
You might say I’m unlearned
45 But there’s one thing I know

A lot of people did not agree with the War that took place in Vietnam and started protests

Though I’m younger than you
That even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do.

Let me ask you one question
50 Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
55 All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul.

And I hope that you die
And your death’ll come soon
I will follow your casket
60 In the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand o’er your grave
‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead.


  1. Who are the ‘masters of war’?
  2. What are the ‘masters of war’ accused of in lines 1-6?
  3. Where can you find alliteration in the first stanza? What is its function?
  4. What is the meaning of line 8?
  5. What is the worst thing the ‘masters of war’ are accused of?
  6. Will the ‘masters of war’ ever be punished for what they have done? Explain.
  7. Describe the speaker’s feelings in the last stanzas.

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