Eric Bogle

And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

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,
I Waltzed my Matilda all over.
Then in 1915 my coutry said "Son,
its time to stop rambling there's work to be done",
So they gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun ,
And they sent me away to the war.
And the band played Waltzing Matilda,
As the ship pulled away from the quay,
And amid all the tears, flag-waving and cheers,
We sailed off to Gallipoli.
Well I remember that terrible day,
When our blood stained the sand and the water,
And how in that hell that they called Suvla Bay,
we were butchered like lambs at the slaughter.
Johnny Turk he was ready, oh he'd primed himself well,
He rained us with bullets and he showered us with shell,
And in five minutes flat we were all blown to hell,
Nearly blew us back home to Australia.
And the band played Waltzing Matilda,
When we stopped to bury our slain,
And we buried our and the Turks buried theirs,
And it started all over again.
Those who were living just 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 awoke in me hospital bed,
And saw what it had done and I wished I were dead,
Never knew there were worse things than dying.
For no more I'll go Waltzing Matilda,
All around the green bush far and near,
For to hump tent and pegs a man needs both legs,
No more Waltzing Matilda for me.
They collected the wounded the cripled and maimed,
And they shipped us back home to Australia,
The armless, the legless, the blind, the insane,
Those proud wounded heros of Suvla.
And when the ship pulled into Circuilar Quay,
I looked at the place where me legs used to be,
And thanked Christ there was no one there waiting for me,
To grieve and to mourn and to pity.
And the band played Waltzing Matilda,
As they carried us down the gangway,
But nobody cheered, they just stood there and stared,
And they turned all their faces away.
So now every April I sit on my porch,
And I watch the parade pass before me,
I see my old comrades how proudly they march,
Renewing their dreams of past glory.
I see the old men all tired stiff and sore,
The weary old heros of a forgotten war,
And the young people ask: "What are they marching for?",
And I ask myself the same question.
And the band plays Waltzing Matilda,
And the old men still answer the call,
But year after year the numbers get fewer,
Some day no one will march there at all.
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
Who'll come Waltzing Matilda with me?
And their ghost may be heard as they march by the billabong,
Who'll come a Watzing Matilda with me?

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