The youth of 1916

A response in the poetic form of a ballad to a line from the novel “Into the Silence”.
By the end of 1916, every boy I had ever danced with was dead.

(Refrain)
By the end of winter 1916,
Every boy I knew was dead,
A bullet for their dance of life,
Cold dirt the blanket of their bed.

(I)
When the call for war first went out,
Our boys joined with happy glee,
Not knowing loves kiss goodbye,
Was the last to ever be.

(II)
Their women mourned so pitiless
With tears their eyes did swell,
But boys thought the better of it,
Formed ranks and marched to hell.

(Refrain)
By the end of winter 1916,
Every boy I knew was dead,
A bullet for their dance of life,
Cold dirt the blanket of their bed.

(III)
Rose colored was each manly cheek,
Their hearts were young and brave,
But soon their faces turned to ash,
Hearts stilled by battle’s grave.

(IV)
Their country gave them medals,
Chiseled names in granite stone,
Everyone sadly shook their heads,
But their widows cried alone.

(Refrain)
By the end of winter 1916,
Every boy I knew was dead,
A bullet for their dance of life,
Cold dirt the blanket of their bed.

(V)
So when you think to take up arms,
And kill another man’s kith and kin,
They too are someone’s father or son
Who will never be kissed again.

(VI)
The great war should teach us all,
There is no reason for such slaughter,
In the end the pain of  death,
Is carried on by wives and daughters.

(Refrain)
By the end of winter 1916,
Every boy I knew was dead,
A bullet for their dance of life,
Cold dirt the blanket of their bed.

©2012, Donald Harbour

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7 thoughts on “The youth of 1916

  1. And now, the only difference is that there are some women marching alongside the men to Hell.

    A very appropriate response to the prompt — the ballad is a wonderful form, effective and evocative if mastered well. And this poem is no different. I could easily picture this set to music.

    -Nicole

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  2. Donald, bravo for a brave response – brave in the sense that it’s not easy to write a ballad and brave for facing the horrible facts of war. I agree, this should have music.

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  3. A lyrical anti wear ballad Don. Thanks for taking the seed and transforming it into this song lament.

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  4. after my single brandy….i can remember 1916 also….good year…good brandy….thanks for your words Donald…looks like dear Irene had 2 shots…had trouble spelling…no problemnsss here..take care…..umm itssunny today in the mountains..4 feet of snow….and last nite only 29 C below…but we got lots of wood for our stove..

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