No Man’s Land

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Well how do you do young Willie McBride?
do you mind if I sit down here by your graveside
and rest for a while ‘neath the warm summer sun 
I’ve been walkin’ all day and I’m nearly done
I see by your gravestone you were only nineteen 
when you joined the great fallen of 1916
Well I hope you died quick and I hope you died clean 
Willie McBride was it slow and obscene
CHORUS
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 band play the last post and chorus,
did the pipes play the “Flowers of the Forest”

And the beautiful wife or the sweetheart for life 
in some faithful heart are you forever enshrined
and although you died back in 1916 
in that faithful heart are you forever nineteen?
or are you a stranger without even a name 
enshrined forever behind a glass pane
in an ould photograph torn tattered and stained, 
fading to yellow in a brown leather frame? CHORUS

Now the sun shines down on the green fields of France 
a warm summer wind makes the red poppy’s dance
The trenches have vanished under the plows, 
there’s no gas no barbed wire, there’s no guns firing now
but here in this graveyard it’s still No Man’s land, 
the countless white crosses stand mute in the sand
for man’s blind indifference to his fellow man, 
to a whole generation that was butchered and damned CHORUS

Now Willie McBride I can’t help wonder why
Do those who lie here do they know why they died
Did they really believe when they answered the call
did they really believe that this war would end wars
Forever this song of suffering and shame 
the killing the dying was all done in vain
for young Willie McBride it’s all happened again, 
and again, and again, and again and again.

Eric Bogle

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