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No Man's Land / Flowers Of The Forest

This song is by June Tabor and appears on the album Ashes and Diamonds (1977).

Well, how do you do, Private William McBride
D'you mind if I sit here down by your graveside?
And rest for awhile in the warm summer sun
I've been walking all day, and I'm nearly done
And I see by your gravestone you were only nineteen
When you joined the glorious 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 sound the pipes lowly?
Did the rifles fire o'er thee as they lowered thee down?
Did the bugles sing The Last Post in chorus?
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest?

And did thee leave wife or a sweetheart behind
In some loyal heart, is your memory enshrined?
And, though you died back in Nineteen Sixteen
To that faithful heart, are you always nineteen?
Or are you just a stranger without even a name
Forever enclosed behind some glass pane
In an old photograph, torn and tattered and stained
And fading to yellow in a brown leather frame?

Did they beat the drum slowly, did they sound the pipes lowly?
Did the rifles fire o'er thee as they lowered thee down?
Did the bugles sing The Last Post in chorus?
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest?

The sun is shining down on these green fields of France
The warm wind blows gently and the red poppies dance
The trenches have vanished now 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
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

Did they beat the drum slowly, did they sound the pipes lowly?
Did the rifles fire o'er thee as they lowered thee down?
Did the bugles sing The Last Post in 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 sound the pipes lowly?
Did the rifles fire o'er thee as they lowered thee down?
Did the bugles sing The Last Post in chorus?
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest?

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