Green Fields of France

By | 28 November 2009

Well, how do you do, young William McBride
Do you mind if I sit here down by your graveside
And rest for a while in the warm summer sun,
I’ve been walking all day, and I’m nearly done.
And I see from 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,
Or Willie McBride was it slow and obscene?

Did they beat the drum slowly, did they play the fife lowly?
Did they play 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 did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind,
In some loyal heart is your memory enshrined?
And, though you died back in nineteen sixteen,
To that loyal heart, you’re forever nineteen?
Or are you a stranger without even a name,
Forever enshrined behind some old glass pane,
In an old photograph, torn and tattered and stained,
And faded to yellow in a brown leather frame?

Did they beat the drum slowly, did they play the fife lowly?
Did they play 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’?

The sun’s shining down 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, 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 lies butchered and damned

Did they beat the drum slowly, did they play the fife lowly?
Did they play 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 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?
Well 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.

Did they beat the drum slowly, did they play the fife lowly?
Did they play 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’?