Home > Poetry > Year after year their numbers get fewer

Year after year their numbers get fewer

November 5, 2009

I was listening to June Tabor‘s version of “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda” tonight and quoting the following seemed apt:

And now every April I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me
And I watch my old comrades, how proudly they march
Reliving old dreams of past glory
And the old men march slowly, all bent, stiff and sore
The forgotten heroes from 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 answer to the call
But year after year their numbers get fewer
Some day no one will march there at all.

The last ANZAC survivor of Gallipoli, Alec Campbell, died in 2002. He led Hobart’s ANZAC Day parade three weeks prior to his death. There ain’t that many survivors of the War to End All Wars left.

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  1. John Wilkins
    November 5, 2009 at 9:48 am | #1

    The song was originally written by Eric Bogle, a Scots immigrant to Australia. His version is perhaps the most poignant:

  2. November 5, 2009 at 10:19 am | #2

    That I knew. I’m partial to the version by the Pogues as well.

  3. ArtK
    November 5, 2009 at 12:40 pm | #3

    Liam Clancy also recorded a good version of this. A song that can wring tears from me yet after many hearings.

    “Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda, Who’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me? And their ghosts may be heard, as they march by the billabong. Who’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?”

    I haven’t heard June Tabor’s rendition, but it sounds like I should get it. Thanks for the post.

  4. DLC
    November 10, 2009 at 11:30 am | #4

    And eventually only the historians will remember.
    Sad, but true. I also remember Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est.”

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