Green Fields Of France lyrics
No Man's Land

by Eric Bogle

Well how do you do, Private William McBride?
Do you mind if I sit here down by your graveside,
And I'll rest for a while in the warm summer sun?
I've been walkin' all day long, 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?

Chorus:
Did they beat the drums slowly,
Did they sound the fife lowly,
Did the rifles fire o' ye as they lowered you down?
Did the bugle sing The Last Post in chorus?
Did the pipes play the Flowers of 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 without even 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

Chorus:

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 plough
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.

Chorus:

And I can't help but wonder, no Willie McBride,
Do all those who lie here, know why they died?
Did you really believe them when they told you the 'The Cause?'
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!

Did they beat the drums slowly,
Did they sound the fife lowly,
Did the rifles fire o' ye as they lowered you down?
Did the bugle sing The Last Post in chorus?
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest?

Did the bugle sing The Last Post in chorus?
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest?

Song Details

Words & Music: Eric Bogle (1976)

Song Titles: No Man's Land (original title), The Green Fields Of France, Willie McBride

Brief: The author reflects on the life of a young man who died in World War I while standing by his graveside.

References:
o' ye - over you (overhead)
The Last Post - a bugle call sounded at military funerals
Flowers of the Forest - an ancient Scottish folk tune.

Category: Anti-War / Folk

Recording Artists: The Furey Brothers and Davey Arthur, The Clancy Brothers, John McDermott, Dropkick Murphys, Celtic Thunder, The Chieftains, The Corries, The High Kings, The Fenians, Eric Bogle from the album Scraps Of Paper (pictured).

Copyright: © Larrikin Music Publishing Pty. Ltd. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used with permission.

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