Monday, May 29, 2006

The Green Fields Of France

"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom..." Abraham Lincoln

1) Well, how do you do young Willie McBride?
Do you mind if I sit hear down by your graveside,
And rest for a while ‘neath the warm summer sun.
I’ve been working all day and I’m nearly done.
I can see by your gravestone you were only nineteen
when you joined the great fallen in nineteen sixteen.
Well I hope you died quick, and I hope you died clean,
Oh Willie McBride, was it slow and obscene?

Did they beat the drum slowly, did they play the fife lowly,
did they sound the death march, as they lowered you down?
Did the bands play the last post and chorus?
Did the pipes play the flowers of the forest?

2.) And did you leave a wife or sweetheart behind
In some faithful heart is your memory enshrined,
Although you died back in nineteen sixteen
In some faithful heart are you forever nineteen?
Or are you a stranger without even a name
Enclosed now forever behind a glass frame
In an old photograph torn, battered and stained
And faded to yellow in a brown leather frame.

3.) Now see how the sun shines o’er the green field of France
There’s a warm summer breeze makes the red poppies dance,
And see how the sun shines from under the clouds
There’s no gas or barbed wire, there’s no guns firing now.
But here in this graveyard it’s still no-man’s land
The countless white crosses in mute witness stand
To man’s blind indifference to his fellow man
To a whole generation who were butchered and damned.

4.) Now young Willie McBride, I can’t help wonder why
Do all those who lie here know why did they die.
And did they believe when they answered the call
Did they really believe that this war would end wars.
Well the sorrow, the suffering, the glory the pain,
The killing, the dying, was it all done in vain?
For young Willie McBride it all happened again
And again and again and again and again.


ELAshley said...

Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful, and heart-wrenchingly beautiful.

Dan Trabue said...

Have you heard the Emmy Lou Harris version of this song? Takes the aforementioned heart-wrenchingly beautiful lyrics and multiplies times 100 with the sound of her devastatingly beautiful voice.

Fish said...

At the end it asks the question -

"The killing, the dying, was it all done in vain?"

I think the only justification for war is to make a people free or to keep a people free. It wasn't done in vain.

Mark said...

I copied and pasted these lyrics from another web site. I thought when I did that the mane of the author was included. I have just noticed it was not.

I apologize. The author is Eric Bogle.

Dan, I never heard the Emmy Lou Harris version of this song. I can imagine, with her voice, it must be a beautiful version. The only version I ever heard was by a Scottish band called The Corries.

It is an anti-war song. I tampered a bit with the lyrics. The original words were "It was all done in vain" But I changed it because I know that war is not necessarily in vain.