Mudcat Café Message Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafeawe



User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Jim Carroll Lyr Req: Protest Songs of the Sixties (36) RE: Lyr Req: Protest Songs of the Sixties 20 Oct 07


This was written for The Festival of Fools; a political 'Living Newspaper' performed at the end of the year from the mid-sixties in a pub theatre in London.
The author of the song and the poem escapes me at the moment; Evan - Euan - something like that.
They don't come any more powerful IMO.
Jim Carroll

Disc of sun in the belching smoke,
Blazing huts where the children choke,
Burning flesh and blackened blood
Charred and blistered like smouldering wood

Oh brother, oh brother, did you weep,
Oh brother, oh brother can you sleep.

Wall eyed moon in the wounded night
Touching poisoned fields with blight,
Showing a ditch were a dead girl lies
Courted by ants and hungry flies.

Oh brother, oh brother, did you weep,
Oh brother, oh brother can you sleep.

Scream of pain on the morning breeze;
Thunder of bombs in a grove of trees
Hymn of rubble and powdered stone,
Mangled flesh and splintered bone.

Oh brother, oh brother, did you weep,
Oh brother, oh brother can you sleep.

Programmed war, efficiency teams
Punch cards fed to thinking machines,
Computered death and the murder plan
Total destruction of Viet Nam

Oh brother, have they got no shame,
Oh Jesus, they're killing in my name.

Followed by part of the poem:

Let us, for a moment, suspend
Our Parliariment of Fools
For the space of time that lies between
The impulse and the act
Of lifting glass to mouth,
Or holding lighted match to cigarette,
Briefly, that is, in the hope our ears
Will catch the dry weeping of the dead

Each year there are many dead.
The annual harvest of lives
Which have passed from seedling state
Through growth to flowering,
From thence to the bearing of fruit
And then to dry, narcessant autumn –
The natural dead,
And there are the others, those
Who are prematurely trampled down,
Or withered before flowers spring
From the bud.
It is they who weep;
The awful silent weeping of the dead.

That they had names is obvious,
And it can be presumed that somone,
Father, mother, husband, sweetheart, lover,
Their closest kin, know them well
And habitually addressed them by affectionate diminutives.

To us, their names were strange
And lay awkwardly on the tongue,
So they remain anonymous –
"Those people who were killed on August 9th
When bombs fell on that town in Viet Nam
What do they call it ?"
Or the ones who died at Stanleyville In March, or was it April ?
They died as ants die under the gardeners foot,
Unnoticed.

They screamed, moaned, shrieked, implored,
Raved in delirium, wailed like infants,
Wept or cursed………and died.
Those nameless, prostrate men of
The agency photographs,
Anticipating with fierce, rolling eyes
The lethal boots of Congo mercenaries;
Or standing, garlanded with ropes,
In pre-execution photos for men
Skilled in the use of delicate equipment.
From the newsprint they appear
To look through us as if we don't exist,
Knowing they are beyond succour,
Expecting no manumission
Of the sentence our silence has decreed.

Do they see anything beyond the grass and trees ?
Do they hear sounds other than those
Made by the crickets and low-flying beetles ?
All of which will still be there
When they, the men, are gone.
Do you ever wonder if their need for justice,
Their beliefs in the ultimate decency of human relationships
Survived those last few moments
When the casual cruelty of their enemies
Appeared to be the sole reality ?

Anthropoligically speaking
They were one, two halves
Which made a whole.
Both sides belonged.to homo sapiens;
They walked upright,
Had fashioned tools to work with,
Developed elaborate languages
With which they could communicate
The most subtle nuances of thought.

The executioners were, as the phrase goes,
Civilised.
Shakespeare, Homer, Dante, Bach, were theirs
And Newton, Democritus, Planck and Heisenberg;
They had domesticated plants and animals,
Tamed rivers, plundered mountains,
Irrigated barren places,
Learned the secrets of flight from birds
And explored the primeval constituents of matter.
But when it came to the point,
None of these things.
Was nearly so significant
As the sudden, downward thrust
Of field boot on a naked skull.


Post to this Thread -

Back to the Main Forum Page

By clicking on the User Name, you will requery the forum for that user. You will see everything that he or she has posted with that Mudcat name.

By clicking on the Thread Name, you will be sent to the Forum on that thread as if you selected it from the main Mudcat Forum page.

By clicking on the Subject, you will also go to the thread as if you selected it from the original Forum page, but also go directly to that particular message.

By clicking on the Date (Posted), you will dig out every message posted that day.

Try it all, you will see.