Newport's War Dead

formerly Newport, Monmouthshire, UK

 

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Green fields of France

also known as

Willie McBride or No Man's Land

written and sung by ©  Eric Bogle

 

Well, how to do, Private William McBride,
Do you mind if I sit here down by your graveside?
And Iíll rest for awhile in the warm summer sun,
I've been walking all day, Lord, and I'm nearly done.
I see by your gravestone you were only 19
When you joined the glorious fallen in 1916,
Well, I hope you died quick and I hope you died clean
Or, Willie McBride, was it slow and obscene?

Did they Beat the drum slowly, did they sound the pipes lowly?
Did the rifles fire o'er ye as they lowered you down?
Did the bugles sing The Last Post in chorus?
Did the pipes play the Fluers to the Forest?

And did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind
In some faithful heart is your memory enshrined?
And, though you died back in 1916,
To that loyal heart are you always 19?
Or are you a stranger with under a name,
Forever enshrined behind some glass pane,
In an old photograph, torn and tattered and stained,
And fading to yellow in a brown leather frame?

Well the sun's shining now on these green fields of France;
The warm wind blows gently, and the red poppies dance.
The trenches have vanished long under the plow;
No gas and no barbed wire, no guns firing now.
But here in this graveyard that's still No Man's Land
The countless white crosses in mute witness stand
To man's blind indifference to his fellow man.
And a whole generation who were butchered and damned.

And I can't help but wonder, now Willie McBride,
Do all those who lie here know why they died?
Did you really believe them when they told you "The Cause?"
Did you really believe that this war would end wars?
The suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame
The killing, the dying, it was all done in vain,
For Willie McBride, it all happened again,
And again, and again, and again, and again.

 © Eric Bogle

 

© Shaun McGuire 2008