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Poetry
The Best Anti War Song Ever
by ex Scot Eric Bogle
kindly provided by Ranald McIntyre


Well how do you do Private William McBride
Do you mind if I sit here down by your graveside,
I'll rest for a while 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 great fallen of 1916
I hope you died well and I hope you died clean
Or young Willie McBride was it slow and obscene

Chorus:

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

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 forever 19
Or are you a stranger without even a name
Enshrined there forever behind a glass pane
In an old photograph torn and tattered and
stained
And fading to yellow in a brown leather frame

Chorus
------
The sun's shining now on the green Fields of France
The warm wind blows gently and the red poppies dance
The trenches have vanished long under the plough
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
And 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

Chorus
------
And I can't help but wonder young Willie McBride
Do all who lie here with you know why they died
Did you really believe it when they told you the cause
Did you honestly think that one war would end wars
Well your suffering, your sorrow, your glory, your shame
Your killing, your dying, it was all done in vain..........
'Cos young Willie McBride it all happened again, and again, and again, and again and again.

Chorus
------

Scottish born but a naturalized citizen of Australia, ERIC BOGLE has been called by critics "The best songwriter of the day" and "one of the most important songwriters of the decade". Eric might pass off such high praise with a laugh, but the record (both literally and figuratively speaking) shows that this chubby little Scotsman from Peebles has given the world some of its most powerful protest songs. And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda written in 1972 has become Australia s most recorded song with performers as diverse as Rod McKuen and The Pogues performing it It also became the largest selling single in Irish history as recorded by Makem and Clancey.

It is the writing of songs such as "....Matilda", A Reason for It All and The Greenfields of France (No Man's Land or Willy McBride) which prompted the Australian government to present Eric with the Australian Peace Award to commemorate the International Year of Peace in 1986. In 1987 the government honored Eric with the Order of Australia for his contributions to that country's music and musical heritage.


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