Now when I was a young man, I carried me pack,
and I lived the free life of a rover From the Murray’s green basin to the dusty outback,
well, I waltzed my Matilda all over. Then in 1915, my country said son, It’s time you stopped rambling, there’s work to be done.
So they gave me a tin hat, and they gave me a gun, and they marched me away to the war.
And the band played Waltzing Matilda,
as the ship pulled away from the quay
And amidst all the cheers, the flag-waving and tears,
we sailed off for Gallipoli
And how well I remember that terrible day,
how our blood stained the sand and the water
And of how in that hell that they called Suvla Bay,
we were butchered like lambs at the slaughter.
Johnny Turk he was waiting, he’d primed himself well.
He shower’d us with bullets, And he rained us with shell.
And in five minutes flat, he’d blown us all to hell
Nearly blew us right back to Australia.
But the band played Waltzing Matilda, when we stopped to bury our slain.
We buried ours, and the Turks buried theirs,
then we started all over again.
And those that were left,
well we tried to survive, in that mad world of blood,
death and fire
And for ten weary weeks, I kept myself alive,
though around me the corpses piled higher
Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over head,
and when I woke up in my hospital bed,
And saw what it had done, well I wished I was dead.
Never knew there was worse things than dyin’.
For I’ll go no more waltzing Matilda, all around the green bush far and free
To hump tent and pegs,
a man needs both legs-no more waltzing Matilda for me.
So they gathered the crippled, the wounded, the maimed, and they shipped us back home to Australia. The legless, the armless, the blind, the insane,
those proud wounded heroes of Suvla
And as our ship pulled into Circular Quay,
I looked at the place where me legs used to be.
And thanked Christ there was nobody waiting for me, to grieve, to mourn, and to pity.
But the band played Waltzing Matilda, as they carried us down the gangway.
But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared, then they turned all their faces away
And so now every April, I sit on me porch, and I watch the parades pass before me.
And I see my old comrades, how proudly they march, reviving old dreams of past glories
And the old men march slowly, old bones stiff and sore.
They’re tired old heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask, what are they marching for?
And I ask myself the same question.
But the band plays Waltzing Matilda, and the old men still answer the call,
But as year follows year, more old men disappear.
Someday no one will march there at all.
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda, who’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?
And their ghosts may be heard as they march by that billabong who’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?
Well how do you do, Private William McBride
Do you mind if I sit here down by your grave side?
And I’ll rest for awhile in the warm summer sun,
I’ve been walking all day 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 drum slowly?
Did they sound the fife lowly?
Did the rifles fire o’er ye as they lowered you down?
Did the bugles sing ‘The Last Post’ in chorus?
Did the pipes play ‘The Flowers o’ 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?
Well the sun’s shining now on these green fields of France,
The warm wind blows gently and the red poppies dance.
The trenches are vanished long under the plough
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.
And I can’t help but wonder now Willie McBride
Do all those who lie here know why they died?
And you really believe them when they told you the cause?
You really believed that this war would end war?
But the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame –
The killing and dying -it was all done in vain.
For Willie McBride, it’s all happened again
And again, and again, and again, and again.
Magic is in the eye of the beholder just as much as beauty is. If you go through life with blinders on expecting the magic around you to hit you in the head, you are going to be waiting a very, very long time. I think in order to survive in the world especially in an urban environment you have to go looking for it and looking for the magic in life isn’t just for children. It’s the only way I can not be a total pessimist and live in the dark recesses of my brain.
So where is the magic? It’s all in how you look at it because it really is everywhere. Right now while on my break at work I can watch the weather. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow and I’ve been watching the front move in from the west over the ocean. I can see the clouds moving across the mirrored building across the way. I can watch the Raven who has been periodically diving in stoop position of her nest on the roof. I can see miles of trees around the buildings and I can send energy to some who appear to be dying out in our lawn. At lunch I can go walk out in the park or around the block and see the silly ducks and the 2 sea gulls that have adopted the building’s fountains as home.
It’s in the riffles of a puddle. It’s in the breezes caress. It’s in the smells around you, good and bad. It’s in every sense you possess.
On the way to the bus this morning I had a chat with a very fat cowbird who was sitting on a picket fence and singing his heart out. I can listen for the hummingbirds and watch the squirrels run through the trees.
I can sit and sip my new favourite tea and savour how it hits my tongue or how one solitary cracker can taste and enjoy it. I can even enjoy acid of the cottage cheese I’m going to have for lunch. I can take the time to thank the Goddess for her plenty and that I can eat and enjoy my food instead of wolfing it down so I can read my book. I can be here NOW and not worry if it’s going to rain before I get home and if it does rain, enjoy it knowing my mother was right and I’m not made of sugar and I won’t melt. There is magic in the rain and in knowing it’s going to wake the seeds I’ve planted and that they are going to unwind and force their way to the sky all with out a map or someone telling them to do it.
I can look out my window and count the colours of green I can see or if I couldn’t see green look for the different blues of the sky.
I can choose to see the life in my garden and the devas or I can be blind to them and assume they don’t exist.
I can take the headphones off and lift my head from my smart phone and the incoming text. I can turn off the TV and watch the sunrise or sunset. I can unplug and just be. Start with 15 minutes a day and then see if that doesn’t grow.
Magic is how you look at life and how it looks back at you. What have you been missing? What could you see as a child that you stopped seeing when you “grew up”?
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