Oh how do you do, young Willie 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 by your gravestone you were only nineteen
When you joined the great fallen in Nineteen-Sixteen.
Well I hoped you died quick, and I hoped you died clean,
Or 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 in 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 fading to yellow in a brown leather frame
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 mans land,
The countless white crosses in mute witness stand,
To a man's blind indifference to his fellow man,
And a whole generation were butchered and damned
And I can't help but wonder oh Willie McBride,
Do all those that 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 suffring', the sorrow, the glory, the shame,
The killing and dying it was all done in vain.
Oh Willie McBride, it all happened again,
And again and again and again and again!