The Gift Of Years (Eric Bogle)

Well, old friend, here I am,
I told you I'd be back,
And as usual, mate, I'm bloody late,
it's 75 years down the track;
And for the last time, here I stand
in this familiar foreign land,
Back with the mates I left behind,
fixed forever in their time.

And of all the ghosts of all the boys
who haunt this lonely place,
Only one of them wears your cheery grin
and your Queensland joker's face;
When I drown in all them bloody dreams
of young men's helpless dying screams,
I feel your hand give my arm a shake,
your voice say, "Steady, mate."

The country that you died for, mate,
you would not know it now,
The future that we dreamed of, mate,
got all twisted up somehow;
The peace that we were fighting for,
the end to stupid, senseless war,
So it couldn't happen to our kids -
well old mate, it did.

But thank you for the gift of years
and the flame that brightly burned,
For the time you bought and the lessons taught,
though often wasted and unlearned;
"Lest we forget," cry the multitude,
as if I ever, ever could,
So forgive an old man's tears,
and thank you for the years.

####.... Eric Bogle, 1971 ....####
Copyright Notice: Both Eric and his publisher would like you to have access to the lyrics of his songs for your own enjoyment but, should you wish to reproduce copies for any purpose, you should first seek permission from the publisher at the following address: - Larrikin Music Pty Limited - 4/30-32 Carrington Street, - Sydney, NSW, - Australia, 2000.

Recorded by Eric Bogle (The Gift Of Years, trk#1, 2000 CD).

The lyrics above are from a live performance at Stonyfell Winery, Adelaide, Australia (Eric Bogle: Live At Stonyfell Winery, trk#20, 2009 DVD, Greentrax Recordings Ltd, Cockenzie, East Lothian, Scotland, UK). This is Eric Bogle's first and (according to him) last DVD, and includes additional interview material.

See more songs by Eric Bogle.

Notes courtesy of Jeremiah McCaw at The Mudcat Café, 05 Nov 02:
¹ Eric Bogle wrote this song to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Gallipoli, when as many veterans as were able to make the trip were taken back to Suvla Bay for the commemoration ceremony.
² Gallipoli marked the first time the Australian Army had fought as a unit under its own officers, much as the battle of Vimy Ridge was the first that the Canadian Army fought as itself rather than under British officers as part of the Allied Expeditionary Forces.
³ The last of the surviving veterans of Gallipoli has passed away. Since the year 2002, there has been no one left to "answer the call".

From Wikipedia:
Alexander William (Alec) Campbell [1899-2002] - born in Launceston, Tasmania, Australia, was the final surviving Australian participant of the Gallipoli campaign during the First World War. His death broke the last living link of Australians with the Gallipoli story.


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