THEY GROW NOT OLD


As I sit in my chair content with my pipe,
In smoke clouds some faces come clear
Of those who are gone, cut off in their youth
But whose memory I hold so dear.
Like the flow of a stream, time passes by,
It's seventy years on I am told
But the faces I see still seem to be young
But I, who was left, have grown old.

My pal, 'Pip' Henson, a North country lad,
Our dialects so far apart,
He called me 'Marra', I called him 'Mate',
But our friendship came from the heart.
"I'll be gannin' Marra!"
He walked from my side
The great reaper took him to his fold,
But the face that I see is still just nineteen
But I, who was left, have grown old.

Grey hairs, baldness, arthritis,
Glasses and similar aids,
These things never entered their minds,
Their thoughts centered more on the maids.
The mud and the rats of the trenches
And other discomforts untold
Seem never to alter the visage of youth,
But I, who was left, have grown old.

The walls of the Thiepval Memorial
Carry thousands of names which tell
Of those who were lost, with no known grave
Just dumped in the ground where they fell.
In my smoke clouds I see them all marching,
Singing with manner so bold,
Full of the vim and vigour of youth
But I, who was left, have grown old.

They fought and died for their country
To make a land in which heroes could live,
Just like pipe dreams of those at Westminster
Had they lived, would they ever forgive?
We returned to find nothing had altered,
Some men had a base greed for gold,
And we still had to fight - for a living,
It's a wonder we lived to grow old.

Harry Fellows


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