“And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” – Eric Bogle

Here’s my farewell to November 11 – Remembrance Day, 2019.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnFzCmAyOp8)

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?

[What’s not so funny is, nothing, and I mean, nothing at all has been learned. We’re on the brink of war again, and on such a scale imagination fails to grasp. Those “others” are still there, and so are the guns, theirs, and ours. What’s wrong with people, huh?]

20 thoughts on ““And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” – Eric Bogle

  1. Hyperion

    I like to tell people that I served my country and its people for 35 years. I took an oath to uphold our constitution and protect it from all enemies, foreign and domestic. I did not swear an oath to the military, its generals, or to the President of the US. I swore nothing to any one person. I did not defend all the lunacy of my government or the misguided and misinformed citizenry. I did not swear to defend democracy or my republic, but to defend freedom for all. I volunteered. I was not mislead. I learned how to be a true warrior with heart and soul intact. I was not a victim of anything except the pain of what I saw. There was suffering and sacrifice but I carried that load willingly. I think we must take a look at the world as it is, a dangerous and violent place, and if we wish to live in our own way, unoppressed, someone has to stand guard. It is a terrible thing to serve with noble intent and realize that noble purpose is not the realm of governments and militaries, it is the one who serves and tho my government has not executed well in any decade of foriegn policy, men and women have served well. I know my three wars and three decades weren’t enough. There is no end to the sacrifice. Perhaps one day we will capitulate and there will be no guard like in Nanking when the Chinese Army fled the field and the Japanese showed us what blood lust, rape, and pillage of innocence looked like. It is sad, but it is what we are. I do think there will come a time when war won’t be necessary but the battle to survive will be necessary. I have seen good people rise above the evil and when that evil is gone from this earth along with 95% of all living things, there will come a new chance to get it right but not before then. Blood will always be the currency of conquest as long as conquest is undertaken whether in evil intent or innocent defense. The carnage that remains is there to remind us of what we really are and what we can quickly become.

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      I think that ‘freedom’ is a very subjective concept. I also believe, and have for many decades, that if it must be killed for, it isn’t worth having… or… I was misled as to the essence of freedom. The real, or true, layer of freedom is achieved in refusal to participate in the harming of others. As a de-programmed entity I’m bound to have a different outlook upon “reality” than those who continue to give the system, or matrix, any sort of validity. All violence is vile. Vileness is evil and it is contagious. It stops however when I say, “Stop!” and I don’t step into it. Back to the question, “What if THEY gave a war and nobody came?” It’s always those who believe, who come forward, who make it possible to continue the madness. The cowards who invent and plan the wars aren’t the ones fighting them. Without the soldiers, there can be no war. War will never stop until all are dead, or all have found the true courage to say “No!” We who refuse to “war” are called the cowards by the System and its sycophants but we’re not the ones destroying the world and millions of innocents. As difficult as this subject is, I am utterly opposed to any aspect of war, of mob violence which in the end is all that war is. The thought of war – for any reason – makes me sick. Should we leave it at that, perhaps?

      Reply
      1. Hyperion

        Certainly we can leave it at that. I don’t mean to make argument for war, only what I experienced having served from foxhole to four-star staff as a strategic planner. Lets say it’s the Lemming Dilemma. Yhe head Lemming leaps off the cliff because his programming says so and all the Lemmings follow suit. Next year during the annual migration, same thing. We do it because that is what is done. The world is changing tho. Some of the Lemmings are saying screw that and heading off on their own. I’ll bet some of them make it. Me, I’m just hanging in there for a few good years on my own and with any luck the Void will take me before the nursing home does. Your vision is sound. The next round of hominids will be better and we’ll go lay down in the clay to scare the willies out of them when they find our skeletons clinging to a smart phone.

      2. rawgod

        With all your vaunted background, sir, I find it impossible you still believe in the Disney hoax that lemmings jump off cliffs. They do not. They never did.
        But that about agrees with your position that violence, especially war, is a necessary part of human life. We are taught it is, and so we believe it. NOT! Violence is the coward’s path, always has been, always will be. How you survived 35 years of military life is astounding. How many friends and comrades-at-arms did you personally see fall in all that time? You defied the odds, though it seems in your later years you were not on the battlefield where you could watch young men and women get their brains blown out, or watch them blowing out the brains of other young men and women.
        War is for brainwashed fools who think they are being heroes. The real heroes are those who refuse to support the system.
        If I am insulting the present “you” by suggesting it seems you learned little about humanity, I apologize, but you said it all when you accused lemmings of being suicidal. The truth is on the internet, though I cannot remember the site. The “great” Walt Disney designed that hoax, though I’ll never understand why. Who designed the hoax that war is necessary, I’ll never understand that person either!

      3. Hyperion

        Hi Rawgod. Apologies if my brain dumps trigger negative thoughts. Lemming hoax is what I intended. Most of what we all believe is real and true is a hoax fabricated right inside our skulls. I think a Disney fairy tale about Lemming migrations is suitable just like Greek, Roman, Norse, and Celtic mythology. I’m not an advocate of war, quite the opposite because I lived it, saw what it did, and why it never solved the original problem that brought war but did effect significant change and that change was good or bad depending on which side one found themselves on. It is an irrefutable fact that less people die in war than on highways, of alcohol abuse, and today more people die of opoid overdose than do car accidents. That is roughly 100,000 Americans a year that die to those social makadies so easily prevented and in ten years that is 1,000,000,000 Americans but you’ll not see any protests or hardliner attitudes about that needless slaughter. We accept that as the price of living today. What I am saying is that war has existed since before written history. Our earliest relics of long gone civilizations have depictions of battle on uncovered artifacts, cave art, etc. war and conflict are as much a part of the human existence as love and procreation. How can we deny that? We don’t have to like it. We can abhor and hate war and do all we can to prevent it, but when war comes to you, one has to choose to fight or in many cases endure or flee. There is no glory or heroism so popular in the public eye. It’s as fake as Disney suicidal Lemmings but there it is, it exists in the minds of those who wish it to be so. I have seen such horrific evil that I cannot deny it exists and I felt a need to step up and do what I could to protect innocent people from this horrific evil but in time I discovered that evil existed in everyone and a noble cause or noble purpose was never the design of tribes, groups, governments, or civilizations. Noble purpose was only in the minds of individuals and not all those individuals were members of a military on a battlefield. I never disrespected anyone who protested war. I felt we needed that counterbalance to keep the warmongers on a leash. I lost a lot in my choice to fight evil but I never gave up trying. I do not oppose your feelings about violence, I applaud you for not participating. But I do know that young men and women will rise to fight because they believe it necessary and they will learn what I learned and if they survive, they will be different than before. This difference cannot be understood by those who chose a different path. I wont talk about my own losses or any impacts to me for my choices in life. Those who would wish to debase me for what I did do not care about self sacrifice or the personal courage it takes to face violence everyday with the same determination as the day before. If it isn’t in you, it never will be but that is not a defect. I can say that Rawgod will never be drawn into the maelstrom of hate and bloodlust and will never lash out with intent to harm or return any blows felt on his body by those who oppose his ideology and that my friend is also noble and respectable. How did I live through three wars? Not everyone dies in war but I am a disabled veteran. I did leave some of myself on the battlefield. No, I always felt safer on the battlefield than in any large city in America. At least on the battlefield I had brothers and sisters that had my back and I had theirs and we had the means to protect ourselves. I don’t have that in America. I have the right to be a victim and nothing more. I think we don’t rise up and demand our government and citizens protect us from uncountable crime and victimization, is because we are conditioned to believe it is just part of life. We are the Disney Lemming headed toward the cliff and it’s okay. There are plenty of Lemmings and not enough cliffs. By the way, I was taught about Lemmings and their love for cliff diving long before Disney built Disney land or began to make cartoons that aired on TV’s, video’s and movies. I don’t think Disney invented that story. He may have brought it to the masses tho. My childhood predates Disney fame and fortune but no matter. Real or false it’s a story that has been around even before I was born and it’s an apt parable. Follow the leader or follow your heart. As long as you have found your own good life, who can rightfully condemn you for that. Hate war, hate it with every fiber of your being but please don’t hate the ones who rise to stop it. They don’t always see the machinations of war and the gross failures of governments until it’s too late.

      4. rawgod

        Thank you for this. I figured that after 35 years of military life you could not love war, but at the same time I would think you of all people should be at the vanguard of decrying its ineffectualities.
        Obviously I do not know you, and I am really sorry for what life has put you through, but I would like to ask you what it was that made you choose to join the armed forces in the first place. More specifically, how much thought, if any, went into that decision? Was it a bandwagon jump, or did you have to get drunk in order to join up? I know that was a long time ago, but I hope you can still remember.
        What always struck me was that despite the “discipline” needed to keep an army focused in one direction, in actuality fighting a war is similar to mob violence. Soldiers have to feed off each other to go into battle everyday and watch their mates be torn to shreds, the lucky ones mostly being the dead ones, but those like you have to spend your lives reliving the scenes of what you lived through. Is there some kind of insanity involved in that process? From my point of view there would have to be.
        Yes, I was born in a different time than you, 1949. I saw the adults around me who had been to war, and could not picture any reason why a person would willingly to that to themselves. As teenagers we discussed war amongst ourselves, and in most of my circles we decided to be pacifists as the only sane response. Fortunately I was born Canadian, and did not have to suffer through all the brainwashing of what it meant to be an American.
        Sorry, I guess I am rambling now, so I’ll shut up. Nice to talk to you.

      5. Hyperion

        If I may take liberties in answering your questions as honestly as I know how, I’d like to discuss some things not yet brought up here. Maybe it is helpful to discuss my decision to serve. You will at least see what my thought process was, which isn’t entirely unique among my countrymen and women. I was born to a military family which had an unbroken and dicumented record of service since 1060 when my Norwegian Viking ancestor accompanied William the Conqueror in the Norman invasion of England. In 1088 my paternal forefather was granted a then 900 year old Castle and an appointment as a knighted Baron which was inheritable and passed down until 1610 when my forefather helped pay for, organize, and supply the Jamestown Colony in America. From there, every war America fought had my family present for duty. 17 paternal relatives are listed on the Vietnam Memorial for their sacrifice to that war. I’ll leave that as it is. My brother served, I served, and my son also served and was awarded for breaking records of accomplishments in combat never achieved in 310 years of Marine Corp History. I felt I taught him well but others may disagree. It’s a family thing. I joined because I lost my company to economic hardship not any fault of my own. I had bills and a family to feed and I needed a new start in life. I joined the Army because it fulfilled a family honor, I was financially exhausted, and I had no illusions of what I was signing up for as I heard all the stories from my family that served in WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. I joined for the benefits of free education, free housing, free meals, clothing, and comeradery. I got the equivalent of a PHD in Physics, mathematics, and metrology the science of measurement. As a senior leader in the Army, I looked after my soldiers welfare all 900 of them were known to me personally. I knew their childrens names, their birthdays, when they married, when they divorced, and when they died. I gave them tough love so that when they left the service they would be homeless or a threat to society but a useful member able to work high level jobs and so I gave them the step up that I recieved when I was young. I did not fear death, I didn’t shirk my duties, nor quibble about fairness. I did learn that the higher up you go the more you are accountable for politics and less about honesty, commitment, integrity, leadership, and personal courage. You become a cog in an uncaring machine and those young men and women suffering the hardship of the battles they were thrown into were no diffetent than all the others that went before them. I stayed to change that. Because all those around me that sold out didn’t mean I had to sell out and because I accomplished significant things, I was trusted where others were passed over. I made things work the way they were supposed to and I saved countless lives, civilians and military. I cannot yell you how many people have contacted me to tell me I saved them and I still have contact with families that were destroyed that I saved. They live well now. They were able to find the chance to start again. This validates my lifelong efforts to me if no one else. Recently, I helped destroy a human trafficking ring by getting involved where no one else would. I also helped bring significant resources to my town to combat gun trafficking used to murder, rape, and rob in Chicago. I haven’t won those wars but I do what I can. I’m not a chest thumper. I want no recognition or thanks and if Inreceive condemnation, si be it, perhaps that’s the insanity. I do not drink alcohol nor do I do drugs so that influence is foriegn to me. I do hate evil. I am against corruption that effects every life on this angry blue planet, but I did not sit and discuss. I went out and faced it. For that, I cannot apologize or retract. I repect tour feelings Rawgod. As I’ve meant to say, we need you. Your boice in opposition is the vouce that needs to be heard and if any young oerson tells me they want to join the military, I tell them to give to humanity in a more positive way. That is what I most want to say. Thete is alternatives. No one need follow me or my path. Right or wrong, good or bad, it was done.

      6. rawgod

        Again, thank you. I can see the pressure tradition would place on you. I hope you will understand that I still cannot thank you, or anyone else, for your service, because service begets service. The more people consent to go to war, for whatever reason, the more it makes future wars possible and probable.
        The need is to teach people to refuse to go to war when some politician/dictator/tyrant/monarch/monster tells them to. But given all the incentives you mentioned, it sounds almost to good to refuse–IF YOU CAN SURVIVE. I call that blackmail. It is you going out to kill another nation’s counterparts of you, not the high-up officers or politicians, etc as above. Little people are killing little people while the upper echelons sit back and watch as a movie. I cannot go as far as you and call it evil, but it is certainly anti-humanitarian and anti-life. When bombs are dropped they do not only kill people, they kill animals and birds and insects and plants of all kinds.
        But thank you for your answers. We are a violent and warring species, but my aim is to make people aware they do not have to partake in that violence. There is a choice.

      7. Hyperion

        Yes Rawgod, there is a choice and we should chose peace if that is one of the choices. Knowing what I know now, There are a lot of changes I could make that would be better for me and my family. No thanks required. I wanted to tell you my story, not change your mind or advise you. I learn much more from those with different views and experiences than those of identical perspectives. There is wisdom in understanding all views of a particular subject. Listening and learning from others never means you must act in a similar fashion. I am not extraordinary or unique, in fact I suffer many human weaknesses in mind and body, but I listened as hard to my enemies as I did my peers and superiors. I enterviewed old Nazi SS and their victims not to condemn or console, but to learn. I spoke with Japanese and Korean soldiers and studied thier methods and philosophies. I learned something about how they viewed their role in history as well as how they viewed themselves. I found them open and honest in their discussions because they needed to be heard and they wanted to tell their side of the story. I reserved judgement and opinion because that is how one receives permissive discussion. I’m not young anymore and there is nothing left in life for me to accomplish. I want to pursue my communion with nature that I grew up in as a child and I’m comfortable with that. It’s my time to let it all go. I truly am irrelevant to the world now. Let the people make their own way and I sit on a rock near a stream and give thanks for that. That’s where I’m at now, a far cry from that time we have discussed. We do agree just from different perspectives. I personally see no harm in that. You can always count on me listening intently to you and to Sha’Tara. I’m thankful for the willingness to engage and to share.

      8. rawgod

        My pleasure, as I have learned from you too. There is never enough understanding when it comes to people with different viewpoints. Also, for those who know how to learn, the more information one has the more that one can learn. Few people are the same at 16 as at 30 as at 60. Experience changes us in all kinds of ways. I couldnever become a “hawk,” but understanding those who are gives me more ways to relate, and to promote ideas. Peace to you, Hyperion, and may you gently float down a burbling stream towards the doorway of death. Sail safely.

      9. Hyperion

        Thank you Rawgod. Yes, it is very true we change as we age and gather wisdom. I’ll look for you on the other side where we can plan our next cycle through the great Void.

      10. Sha'Tara Post author

        I would like to add one thing to this discussion. I am no less “guilty” myself than any soldier who, based on her/his understanding, did what seemed best given the circumstances. Take me, 42 years service tech for Coca Cola. How many people got sick, developed diabetes, other complications, from drinking this poison out of the machines I dutifully kept working, or installed over that time? Croak-a-Cola, McDope-All, Slobway, Blubber King, Poopsie, take any of them in the fake food industry, and what are they doing, if not waging a deadly war upon the uninformed, lazy, stupid, innocent, who can’t think for themselves; who can’t reason why they should not ingest those sweet or tasty poisons? I’m anti planned, organized and executed wars of missiles, bombs, cannons, etc., but I am fully aware there are many kinds of wars being waged against people all over the world… for power, control and profit, no other reason need apply. We all bear the guilt and shame of our corrupt and collapsing society – and no matter how vociferous I get against violence, don’t think for one moment that if I saw a man raping a woman, or beating a child, that I would ignore it, or just go over and ask kindly and gently, “please stop doing that, sir!” It would be a sudden and very different kind of introduction, and damn the consequences. Right, we have lost the right to defend ourselves. We have been relegated to the role of victims of the powers that be. That too, is a great loss and if people don’t get back their right to protect themselves, or the innocent and helpless, all will become victims AND willing accomplices of a depraved police state. There, I’ve said what I meant to say, more or less. There might be better ways to say it, but I can’t think of that at the moment. Thanks for your kind and well-expressed ‘challenge’ Daniel. I’m very lucky to have you exchanging thoughts with me on this blog.

      11. Hyperion

        Thank you so much Sha’Tara. The fact that I’m comfortable trying to express myself here means a lot of trust in the intellectual strength and courage possessed by our eccelectic group of bloggers. I do not want to trigger negative emotions but it happens, especially when we get close to those things that mean a lot to us. I could never find fault with what you have told us here. I see a remarkable person doing the best they can with the cards delt and taking the time to share the journey and the wisdom collected along the way. There is no shame in that from my perspective. I acknowledge and confess my many misguided and wrongful moves. I was merely unfired clay in the beginning. But even as a wet lump of dirt, I was struggling to become a Celadon Swan right up to the point I found out that swans are now a hate symbol of rape and then I decided to be a dragon, or a wolf, or a dung beetle. Surely a dung beetle isn’t any more negative than it ever was before. There is stability and a kind of determination in that lowly creature. All this is to say, I experienced a wide range of what life serves and I can’t regret what it all helped me see and understand. That might be where I offer only confusion in that I’m equally made of those experiences and what I worked so hard to obtain from those experiences. I can honestly say, I lived to my maximum ability and my ability constantly evolved. That meant life whipped my boney buttocks hard and often but I got back up, took note of why I got my butt whipped and moved out smarter than the day before. We are not pure and without fault, but we can chose as you have said often. Let us chose wisely. We’ve earned that and in today’s world being able to chose wisely is a superpower. I talk a lot here but you can believe I listen intently. I may be slow on the uptake now but bear with me, I still love our explorations into what the world is and what it will become as well as the scenes from inbetween. I thank you immensely for that priviledge in your virtual house.

  2. Phil Huston

    History rewritten to appease will surely be repeated. Short memory spans, shorter attention spans and when the old all pass into forgotten the children will sing where have all the flowers gone and do it all over again…

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Yes. Until the end of this civilization. Fundamental change is impossible, collectively speaking, given the current social parameters. Like the kid said after listening to the environmentalist, “We’re screwed!”

      Reply
  3. deteremineddespitewp

    The exchange between Hyperion and Rawgod are filled with dignity and intensity without resorting to the kind of snarling and cruelty I am oft want to use when going head to head with opponents. Between them, they put me to shame.

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks for saying that, Roger. I has thought of saying something in the same vein but somehow couldn’t come up with the right words. Yes, those two deserve praise for handling their discussion so impeccably while still getting their point across, neither folding before the other. Rare “skill” that. Thanks again, Roger.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.