Further Down The Line
(AKA The Haunted Yellow Hours)
Bourchier / Preminger
(Barker / Harvey)

It's not for me the dead stare cold,

It's not for me they pine

They stare through my weeping eyes

Further down the line.

 

At men in clubs with books and maps

And seats high up in the air

At men in suits who puff cigars

And gamble without care.

(Chorus)

No, it's not for me the dead cold stare

It's not for me they pine

They stare through my weeping eyes

Further down the line.

 

I try to speak, to give them hope

To tell them this will pass

But the words stick thick inside my throat

As the cry goes up: 'Masks on fast!'

Now we sit in an open trench

My silent friends and I,

Wiling away the Haunted Yellow Hours

Too dead to wonder why.

(Chorus)

Oh, it's not for me the dead cold stare,

It's not for me they pine

They stare through my weeping eyes

Further down the line.

 

(Sotto voce)

At men in clubs with books and maps

Who gamble without care

Who leave us dying in the cold

Choking on foul air

 

Drop like flies in the jaundiced smog

Drop like flies to die

Poisoned by the cankered gods

Who spew out lie after lie

 

(Chorus)

No, it's not for me the dead cold stare

It's not for me they pine

They stare through my weeping eyes

Further down the line

 

(Whispered)

No, it's not for me the dead cold stare,

Further down the line

The Poetic Clown
(AKA Robbing The Grave Of A Poetic Clown)
Bourchier / Preminger
(Barker / Harvey)

"Bury me at midnight in a silver moonlight spray!

Bury me at midnight, like the beggar's writer, Gay!

Light a thousand torches, hire grieving widows by the yard!

Demand that the highest bishop admits to feeling sad!"

 

Such were the sentiments - oh, most comically expressed!

Of a young forgotten poet whose name you'll never guess

I thought it would be spiffing fine to have my grievers dine sublime

By candle-light, on coffin-top, reading out such rhymes!

 

(Chorus)

Dig, dig, dig-dig-dig, dig deeper than a well!

Dig, dig, dig-dig-dig, dig straight down to Hell!

Dig straight down and never stop, never stop that dig!

Dig straight down & burst right in, we'll have a manic jig!

 

Of course, Dear Reader, I know full well that this shall ne'er come to pass,

For who will be left to carry me home to such a moonlight mass?

There will be no pall-bearers left alive in this feeble quest for grass

And I shall lie where I shall die - in this maddening, grave-robbing farce!

 

So dig me a grave where I can rave and scribble for all time

Dig me a grave where I can vent articulate splenetic rhyme

Dig me a grave where I can nurture a hatred most sublime

For the fools who made this mess and think it not a crime!

 

(Chorus)

Dig, dig, dig-dig-dig, dig deeper than a well!

Dig, dig, dig-dig-dig, dig straight down to Hell!

Dig straight down and never stop, never stop that dig!

Dig straight down & burst right in, we'll have a manic jig!

 

A crime against the English, a crime against the Scots!

A crime against the Welsh but we all drew random lots

Random lots for where we’ll fall beneath this foreign sky

Random lots for body parts we’ll lose – an ear, a leg, an eye

 

Bury me at daybreak in a dull bleached ochre dawn !

Scrape up my body parts that decorate the War torn lawn!

Note my rank and number, take care to write it down

Then dig a hole, light a fag and lament a fallen clown!

 

(Chorus)

Dig, dig, dig-dig-dig, dig deeper than a well!

Dig, dig, dig-dig-dig, dig straight down to Hell!

Dig straight down and never stop, never stop that dig!

Dig straight down & burst right in, we'll have a manic jig!

Hell yeah!

A Secret Hidden Message
(AKA Everything Is A Secret Hidden Message)
Bourchier / Preminger 
(Barker / Harvey)

I see it written in the sky

I see it flicker way up high

A secret hidden message

I see it twitching on the wire

I see it smoulder in the fire

A secret hidden message

 

Oh, everything is a secret hidden message

For me, it’s a secret hidden message

Only for me, only for me

 

I see it written in your face

I see it skulking, low and base

A secret hidden message

I see it in the bursting shells

I see it in the hills and on the fells

A secret hidden message

 

Oh, everything is a secret hidden message

For me, it’s a secret hidden message

Only for me, only for me

 

I see it in the way you lie

A secret hidden message

I see it the way you cry

A secret hidden message

I see it in the way you kiss

A secret hidden message

I see it through an ocular mist

 

Oh, everything is a secret hidden message

Yes, everything is a secret hidden message

 

 

I see it in the way we fight

I see us suffer every night

A secret hidden message

I see beyond the bitter end

I see someone dead, my friend

A secret hidden message

 

Oh, everything is a secret hidden message

For me, it’s a secret hidden message

Only for me, only for me

Poor, Poor Surgeon Tim
(AKA Poor Surgeon Tim)
Bourchier / Preminger 
(Barker / Harvey)

Poor, poor Surgeon Tim

His lot is very grim

Poor, poor Surgeon Tim

His lot is very grim

Stretcher them in for Surgeon Tim

Stack 'em high lest they should die

Before he lets scalpel fly

Freshly wiped with a tear from his eye

From shell-shocked boys to mangled men

He'll try & hack them back to health again

I've seen him do it with my own eyes

Well, the one that he left, a pleasant surprise

 

Poor, poor Surgeon Tim

His lot is very grim

Poor, poor Surgeon Tim

His lot is very grim

 

So scrub them clean for Poor Surgeon Tim

Rinse off the filth then whisper a hymn

For those poor souls who go under his knife

Are almost certain to lose their young life

 

Judge not the swig of ether from the tin

When no one's around cos he's all out of gin

Don't judge a man who's lot is so grim

That he goes by the name of Poor Surgeon Tim

 

Poor, poor Surgeon Tim

His lot is very grim

Poor, poor Surgeon Tim

His lot is very grim

 

I once heard a sapper whose tag named him Joe

Cry for his mother before they sent him below

Despatched with benevolence by Poor Surgeon Tim

Who knew the boy's chances were far less than slim

 

As the mask went over his face

I mouthed a silent prayer for the lost human race

And then as Poor Tim threw open the valve

I cried for a world that no peace could salve

 

Poor, poor Surgeon Tim

His lot is very grim

Poor, poor Surgeon Tim

His lot is very grim

 

Poor Surgeon Tim

His lot is very grim

Poor Surgeon Tim

His lot is very, very, very, very, very........grim.

The Kindness Of Ravens
Bourchier / Preminger 
(Barker / Harvey)

Patiently we watch each other, my hungry raven friend and I

 

He from a leafless tree, me from a sunless sky

 

It saddens me greatly to seem him cast a humourless black eye

 

Over a lost human race that marches on to die

When he tilts his sleek rain-glistened head, I of course panic

 

Clutched as I am in an exquisitely sharp metal embrace

 

For to move the merest fraction would mean to lose my face

So even though my mouth is parch’d dry, I fain my lip to lick

 

For I must let the creature know that my pulse still does tick

As I gaze into the crimson reflection that pools by my feet

 

I realise that my crucifixion is almost complete

 

As a blind man I shall walk if ever again I shall rise

 

For my hungry raven friend will have surely pecked out my cold eyes

As a blind man I shall walk if ever again I shall rise

 

For my raven friend will surely have pecked out my cold eyes

 

Have pecked out my cold eyes….have pecked out my cold eyes

Softly Spoken Bill
Bourchier / Preminger
(Barker / Harvey)

I never saw a sight so strange as softly spoken Bill

Fix his bayonet, grit his teeth, go charging up the hill

Machine gun nests are hateful things, spitting swarms of metal grit

Metal grit that pierces skin, taking out those who're hit

They took out a poor young boy near softly spoken Bill

Who one moment was laughing gay, the next, machine gun kill

 

I never saw a sight so strange

As softly spoken Bill

Fix his bayonet, grit his teeth

Go charging up the hill

 

 

So off charged Bill, his eyes ablaze, caring not for spitting nests

Caring even less for the CO's cry of "Who’s that foolish pest?"

Bill ducked the stinging torrent, Bill swerved the bursts of fire

Bill leapt across the barricade after slicing through their wire

"Follow that man!" cried the CO, "Back him to the hilt!"

Thinking the whole of the law shall be 'Do what thou shall wilt'.

 

 

I never saw a sight so strange

As softly spoken Bill

Fix his bayonet, grit his teeth

Go charging up the hill

 

 

We ran in haste across the mud, we ran up that thar hill

But what we saw stopped us dead and made our blood run chill

For Bill had found the enemy waving hastily-made white flags

So he'd scalped them with his bayonet and put their hair in bags

"Stop that man!" cried out the CO, his lip curling with disdain

So Bill was softly sent back home and never seen again

 

Oh, I never saw a sight so strange

As softly spoken Bill

Fix his bayonet, grit his teeth

Go charging up the hill

 

Repeat.

Pounding For Peace
Bourchier / Preminger
(Barker / Harvey)

They're pounding for peace again, the guns at the front

We thought there was respite but now we're taking the brunt

Taking the brunt of all that they throw

All that they throw in this nightmare of woe

 

They're pounding for peace again, 'war on the march',

War on the poplar, war on the larch

War on the cuckoo-flower that grows by the stream;

War on the home where once I did dream

 

Oh, they're pounding for peace again

Those guns at the front

They're pounding for peace again

So we're taking the brunt

 

Dreaming as a child of blue distant lands

Of colonies and outposts and bright glittering sands

Where a young man could make his fortune or name

Through deeds dashly daring, without conscience or shame

 

Dreaming of sultans and emirs and princes and kings,

Who would bestow upon me riches, barbed without stings

I dreamt of blushing damsels, rose-red in white silk;

I dreamt of my sweetheart, uncloth’d, bathing in milk.

 

Oh, they're pounding for peace again

Those guns at the front

They're pounding for peace again

So we're taking the brunt

 

I dreamt of a century thwacked out at Trent Bridge and Lords;

I dreamt of boundaries and sixes applauded by hoardes

Today I started dreaming beneath a late swooning sun

But then woke nerve-struck when they started pounding their guns

 

Yes, they're pounding for peace again, on the blasted front line

Pounding for nothing, pounding for all time

Pounding for pounding's sake, pounding till late,

Spurred on by little except bitterness and hate.

 

Oh, they're pounding for peace again

Those guns at the front

They're pounding for peace again

So we're taking the brunt

 

Repeat.

The Lost Bastard Son Of War
Bourchier / Harvey
(Barker / Harvey)

I am the lost bastard son of war and I bring you death and destruction!

Death & destruction, death & destruction!

 

The tiresome wag bought a round, then bought us each a smoke

But as he flashed his shallow cash I thought him just a joke

He'd cluffed the scuffed Victoria Cross peeking from my coat

When I'd quaffed the golden dew that warmly gilds one's throat

 

He tapped me rudely on the arm and gave a friendly wink

Nudging forward a fresh new glass brimming to the brink

"Tell us, chum, your tales of war - pray tell us if you can!"

I sighed and frowned then downed the bribe; my cold heart briefly span.

I am the lost bastard son of war and I bring you death and destruction!

Death & destruction, death & destruction!

 

I stared bleakly into the fire, I sighed most torrid deep

I sighed like an earthbound corpse, cursed by lack of sleep

I raised my grey, empty eyes and stared straight through the crowd

Gathering fast about us like a hungry nebulous shroud

 

"So," I said, feeling glum, "you want to hear of battles won?

Of bowmen, tanks, of hero ranks; of glorious setting suns?

Of glittering deeds by Allied seeds, oh so nobly done?

Well, you've picked very poor, for I am War's lost bastard son.

 

I am the lost bastard son of war and I bring you death and destruction!

Death & destruction, death & destruction!

 

I'll tell you of the badly-fed spilling out their empty guts

Of those who lost their minds staggering numbly through the ruts

Of boys mown down like fresh spring grass in the cold twilight mist

Torn apart, from head to heart, by a cruel machine gun kiss

 

You want to hear epic tales of hunting down the Hun?

Led by pompous hypocrites, "Tally-ho lads, good job done!"

You want perhaps to hear me say that killing people's fun?

Well, thanks for the drink, I'm much obliged, but it ain’t like that, chum.

 

I am the lost bastard son of war and I bring you death and destruction!

Death & destruction, death & destruction!

 

War is stumbling blindly through the foulest, vilest smog

Through clouds of seething mustard gas, poison death-drenched fog

It's hateful whispers weaving through the ghoulish yellow smoke

Whispers from the old dark gods about their murderous joke

 

I'll tell of those who behind the lines courageously herd you on

Shepherds to the slaughter, "Your country's so proud, son!"

I'll tell you too of other bastards who never made it home

Felled and buried in the mud, their dead names haunting stone

 

Yes, I am War's lost bastard son - ungrateful for all time!

Ungrateful for my bronze trinket that merely rewards crime!

Ungrateful for the wounds they stitched, stitched up less than neat

Ungrateful for the pension that sees me sleeping in the street

 

I am War's lost bastard son - I am angry for all time!

I am angry for the pointless loss, angry while I rhyme!

Angry at the shabby way politicians treat those they prod

Angry that they make us kill to prove our love for God

 

'Tell us tales of war!' you ask with sycophantic guile

Hoping to have your way, no doubt, for a cheaply plastered smile

Well, lend me your gun, my noble friend, and I promise that you'll see

My keenest insights, freshly splattered, across your bended knee!

 

I AM THE LOST BASTARD SON OF WAR

I AM THE LOST BASTARD SON

BUT I AIN'T THE ONLY ONE

NO, I AIN'T THE ONLY ONE

 

I AM THE LOST BASTARD SON OF WAR

I AM THE LOST BASTARD SON

BUT I AIN'T THE ONLY ONE

NO, I AIN'T THE ONLY ONE

The Expressionist Tell # 1
Bourchier / Trad. Arr. / Harvey
(Barker / Harvey)
The Expressionist Tell # 2
Trad. Arr. / Bourchier / The Moon Lepers
(Barker / Harvey)

Gas, guns, mortar fire

Gas, guns, mortar fire

Gas, guns, mortar fire

Gas, guns, mortar fire

 

You could tell from his expression

You could tell from his expression

You could tell from his expression

He'd been traumatised, traumatised, traumatised

Gas, guns, mortar fire

Gas, guns, mortar fire

Gas, guns, mortar fire

Gas, guns, mortar fire

 

You could tell from his expression

You could tell from his expression

You could tell from his expression

He'd been anaesthetised, anaesthetised, anaesthetised

Gas, guns, mortar fire

Gas, guns, mortar fire

Gas, guns, mortar fire

Gas, guns, mortar fire

 

You could tell from his expression

You could tell from his expression

You could tell from his expression

He'd been terrorised, terrorised, terrorised

 

He’d been terrorised 

He’d been terrorised 

He’d been terrorised 

He’d been terrorised 

He’d been terrorised 

He’d been terrorised 

 

Oh, you could tell from his expression

Yes you could tell from his expression

Oh you could tell from his expression

He had dead fish eyes....dead fish eyes...dead fish eyes

That’s the tell

That’s the tell

That’s the tell. 

I Am The Messenger
Bourchier, Owen / Barker & Harvey
(Barker, Harvey, Owen & others as quoted )

I am the messenger

I am the messenger

I am the messenger

 

Across the silent down, weeping with the dew;

Across the sleeping town, waking but a few;

Across the quiet farm, rousing drowsy lark;

Across the old school playing fields, across the misty park

 

Across the trees, across the land, across all that's high and low

I harvest, reap and then I keep before I slink below

I drain away vitality, then tug you underground;

Naked, cold, forgotten; entombed without a sound.

I am the messenger

I am the messenger

I am the messenger

“I am a messenger who will bring back word from the men who are fighting to those who want the war to go on forever. Feeble, inarticulate will be my message, but it will have a bitter truth and may it burn their lousy souls.” Paul Nash, artist

“We're telling lies; we know we're telling lies; we don't tell the public the truth, that we're losing more officers than the Germans, and that it's impossible to get through on the Western Front.” Lord Rothermere, newspaper owner

“Two armies that fight each other is like one large army that commits suicide.” ― French soldier Henri Barbusse, in his novel "Le Feu", 1915

“In no circumstances whatever will the expression 'shell-shock' be used verbally or be recorded in any regimental or other casualty report, or in any hospital or other medical document.” ― British army General Routine Order No. 2384, issued on 7 June 1917 in France.

“Once lead this people into war, and they'll forget there ever was such a thing as tolerance. To fight, you must be brutal and ruthless.” ― American president Woodrow Wilson.

“We are within measurable, or imaginable, distance of a real Armageddon.” ― British Prime Minister Henry Asquith, one week before the war started.

“Never had the machine-gunners such straightforward work to do nor done it so unceasingly.” ― German Regimental Diarist at the Battle of Loos where the Allies suffered over 80% losses.

“Independent thinking is not encouraged in a professional Army. It is a form of mutiny. Obedience is the supreme virtue.” ― British Prime Minister Lloyd George in his 'War Memoirs'

“As a result of continuous work with these highly toxic substances, our minds were so numbed that we no longer had any scruples about the whole thing.” ― Otto Hahn, German scientist and co-inventor of war gas.

“Dearest Mother, No-man's land under snow is like the face of the moon: chaotic, crater ridden, uninhabitable, awful, the abode of madness.” ― Wilfred Owen, in a letter to his mother, January 1917

The abode of madness

The abode of madness

The abode of madness

The abode...the abode….the abode

The abode….of madness...

I am the m-m-m-m-messenger!

I am the m-m-m-m-messenger!

I am the m-m-m-m-messenger!

The Eternal Bleak Darkness Of My Death
(AKA The Ballad Of The Black Veiled Respirator)
Bourchier / Harvey
(Barker / Harvey)

It's the eternal bleak darkness of my death, that troubles me

The eternal darkness of my death

The eternal black darkness of my death

The eternal bleak darkness of my death, that troubles me

 

Who is this that is coming? Coming through the fog?

Who is this that is coming? Like some weird up-standing dog?

 

Black gauze about its face, goggle eyes and funeral lace

Clawing hands, distorted form, like one the Maker had scorned

 

Never would I whistle for the likes of him

Never would I whistle for it would be a sin

 

To whistle up one who seems so strange, to whistle up one who seems so real

To whistle up such a creature, as would hound me at my heel?

 

It's the eternal bleak darkness of my death, that troubles me

The eternal darkness of my death

The eternal black darkness of my death

The eternal bleak darkness of my death, that troubles me

 

Truffling through the trenches, truffling through the stench

Truffling through the leaf mulch, truffling with intent

 

Death has sent an errand-boy, Death has shot his bow

Death has made it very clear, He craves me down below

 

A strange scent writhes about, writhes about its head

Vaguely yellow, I think it is, the odour of the dead

 

Gilding flesh with loathsome sweat, like sweat upon a horse

Galloping madly off to Hell, though we're almost there of course

 

It's the eternal bleak darkness of my death, that troubles me

The eternal darkness of my death

The eternal black darkness of my death

The eternal bleak darkness of my death, that troubles me

 

The goggles slip down a jot, revealing blackened eyes

Its voice seeks to reassure me, which comes as some surprise

 

"But I'm not your friend!' I cry in fear, 'Leave me now, leave me here!

For I would rather die alone without my legs than go back home!"

 

I reach for Mr Webley, I reach for my comfort gun

For I will finish what they started, now I cannot run

 

"No!" he cries, the black veiled dog, leaping through the mist

But I am spry so I let fly, before he grabs my wrist

It's the eternal bleak darkness of my death, that troubles me

The eternal darkness of my death

The eternal black darkness of my death

The eternal bleak darkness of my death, that troubles me

The Darkling Fields Of Stowborough
Bourchier / Preminger
(Barker / Harvey)

Last to leave was I, those Darkling Fields of Stowborough,

As the late afternoon sun drained the happy wicket dry.

Weary boys lugged heavy kit through the gathering twilight haze,

Speculating about the evening meal; oh carefree were those days.

I lingered by the pavilion, drawn to the dying light

Swooning in the sunset, a moth without the flight.

“Hurry up boy, and don't dare slack!” cried out Old Mr Bate,

Who'd claimed he'd played for the county back in 1878.

 

I pointed to the boundary, mouthed a pretend word or two,

Then sauntered ever deeper towards the melancholy hue.

Beyond the treetops whispered as though in silent rhyme

The golden fields of wheat rippled in syncopated time.

 

I filled my lungs with twilight air, thrilling at the touch,

Wondering if the world's exquisite charm would always be gentle such.

I heard a distant rumble, a menacing growl from the east,

And saw a hungry black storm cloud preparing for a feast.

 

The air grew chill upon my skin and caused a twitchlike shiver,

A spot of rain fell upon my arm, like blood drawn by a quiver.

 

I turned with haste and sudden fear and ran back to the school,

Then stood in the doorway, gazing back, trembling like a fool.

 

Last to leave was I, those Darkling Fields of Stowborough,

As the relentless storm churned the unhappy wicket over.

Listen In The Twilight Breeze
Nicholas Parkes 
(Barker / Harvey)

Oh weep not for me, prophetic tender owls,

Nor a sad, silent vigil keep;

For I’d rather you strive to fill the dark void in my life,

With hymns to comfort me deep

          Then when vanishes the sun -

          When all spent days are done -

          Pray summon my lover to come

 

 

Then listen for us both in the late twilight breeze

As we walk hand-in-hand beneath darkling trees

          Pray listen, my love

          Pray listen with me

          Pray listen to the owls in the trees

Oh serenade me, prophetic tender owls,

As I bid my last love goodbye

For I cannot shuffle off from this mortal coil

With a lonely tear in my eye

 

 

          I shall need your sweet cries -

          Like I need her sweet lies -

          For that is how our true love dies

 

 

Then listen just for me in the last twilight breeze

As I walk hands in pocket beneath darkling trees

          Yes listen, my love

          Pray listen with me

          Pray listen to the owls in the trees

Yes listen, my love

Pray listen with me

Pray listen to the owls in the trees

Corpse #564
Bourchier / The Moon Lepers
(Barker / Harvey)

Wake me not, I beg you friend, wake me up, never

For if you do then I shall rise and stalk you all forever

I dropped as I fell in piecemeal hell, broken torn and bleeding

So if you trouble to wake me up, my horror will come a-feeding

 

Wake me not, I beg you friend

Never, never !

Wake me not, I beg you friend 

Never, never, NEVER !

REPEAT

Revenge has been my study, these cold forgotten years

Hate has been my bedfellow, plotting your darkest fears

So let me sleep and rest in peace, take something from this war

For never should you seek to rouse, Corpse Number 564 !

Wake me not, I beg you friend

Never, never !

Wake me not, I beg you friend 

Never, never, NEVER !

REPEAT

Unless you want me in your life hammerin’ on your door

Unless you want me to take your wife and nail her to my floor

Unless you want me to take from you all that you hold dear

Mother, father, children too - everything I’ll spear !

Wake me not, I beg you friend

Never, never !

Wake me not, I beg you friend

Never, never, NEVER !

REPEAT

DAS ENDE

© 2018 Christopher Richard Barker. 

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