Theresa O’Connor

Green Fields of France

Well how do you do, Private Willie McBride?
Do you mind if I sit here down by your graveside
And rest for a while 'neath the warm summer sun;
I've been walking all day and I'm nearly done.
I see by your gravestone you were only nineteen
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 drums 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"
And did the pipes play "The Flowers of the Forest"?

Did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind?
In that faithful heart is your memory enshrined?
Although you died back in 1916
In that faithful heart are you forever nineteen?
Or are you a stranger without even a name
Enclosed now forever behind a glass frame
In an old photograph, torn, battered, and stained
And faded to yellow in a brown leather frame?

Now see how the sun shines down on the green fields of France;
There's a warm summer's breeze that makes the red poppies dance.
The trenches lie banished from under the clouds,
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
To man's blind difference to his fellow man
To a whole generation who were butchered and damned.

Now young Willie McBride, I can't help wonder why
Do those who lie here know why did they die.
Did they really believe when they answered the call
Did they really believe that this war would end war?
For the sorrow, the suffering, the glory, the pain,
The killing, the dying, were all done in vain!
For young Willie McBride it all happened again
And again and again and again and again.

(The MP3 is The Old Brigade, my cousin Danny's band.)