Add Explanation
Add Meaning
New! Read & write lyrics explanations
  • Highlight lyrics and explain them to earn Karma points.
Eric Bogle – No Man's Land lyrics

1. Well, how'd you do, Private William Mcbride?
Do you mind if I sit here down by your graveside?
I'll rest here awhile in the warm summer sun,
I've been walking all day, Lord, and I'm nearly done.
And 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?
Did they beat the drum slowly,
Did they sound the fife lowly,
Did the rifles fire o'er you as they lowered you down?
Did the bugles sing "The Last Post" in chorus?
Did the pipes play "The Flowers of the Forest?"
2. 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?
3. 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 and no barbed wire, no guns firing now.
But here in this graveyard it'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.
4. 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.

Lyrics taken from

  • Email
  • Correct
Corrected byVampoe


  • u
    Originally an anti-war song, it was banned by the bbc for 10 years after it was written. Two other folk artists released it during the ban, but with different titles. Irish band 'the furies' covered it in 1980 on the album 'when you were sweet sixteen' as 'the green fields of france'. It was also released as 'the ballad of willie mcbride' but I can't recall the artist. Eric bogle wrote it after visiting the war graves in france. It's the first song I learned to fingerpick, and I sing it at the rsl every anzac day, along with eric's other war poem, 'the band played waltzing matilda'. For the musicians - verse: g em am d c d em g chorus: g em am c am d G. Beautiful song!
    Add your reply

    Write about your feelings and thoughts

    Know what this song is about? Does it mean anything special hidden between the lines to you? Share your meaning with community, make it interesting and valuable. Make sure you've read our simple tips.
    Min 50 words
    Not bad