Green Fields of France

(Eric Bogle)

I first heard this song recorded by Davey Arthur and the Fureys and instantly fell in love with it. It is, without doubt, the best anti-war song ever written, and I still barely make it through without crying. Now that Harry Patch has gone, it’s even more important that we never forget WW1.

Well, how do you do, Young Willie McBride,
Do you mind if I sit down here by your graveside?
And rest for awhile neath the warm summer sun,
I’ve been walking all day, and I’m nearly done.
And I see by your gravestone you were only 19
When you joined the great fallen in 1916,
Well, I hope you died well and I hope you died clean
Or young Willie McBride, was it slow and obscene?

Did they Beat the drum slowly, did the 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?

Did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind
In some faithful heart is your memory enshrined?
And, though you died back in 1916,
In that faithful heart are you forever 19?
Or are you a stranger without even a name,
Enclosed forever behind a glass pane,
In an old photograph, torn and tattered and stained,
And fading to yellow in a brown leather frame?

The sun now it shines on the green fields of France;
There’s a warm summer breeze that makes the red poppies dance.
And see how the Sun shines from under the cloud
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 lie mute in the sand
To man’s blind indifference to his fellow man.
And to a whole generation that were butchered and damned.

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