From Severn by the Somme     Words and music by Martin Graebe

The story is that I had been visiting the WWI cemeteries in Northern France and had been struck by the number of women buried there – particularly the nurses. They had come from all over the world to ‘do their bit’ and many of them had died there as a result of enemy action or disease. They were of a range of ages and, though nurses predominated, there was a teenager who worked in the kitchens, an actress who had been singing to the troops, and a woman in her 80s who delivered newspapers around the army camps. Their stories stayed with me and one morning as I was driving to work I saw the floods from the River Severn glistening in the sunlight, and the sheep dotted about the hills, and things came together to form the idea for the song. Martin


I am most grateful to Martin for this song. Every time I sing it touches my heart and there is not much more that I can say about it, just a great song and a privilege to sing it.   


From Severn by the Somme    Words and Music  Martin Graebe

The swan picks over flooded fields the heron haunts the hawthorn break

The winter stress have drowned the fields the green grass turned to silver lake 

And through the dark and dreary days I tend my sheep upon the hills 

And think on you ‘though far away and wish that you were with me still.

Like Severn’s floods the storms of war have drowned all hopes of you and I 

With deadly grace the soldiers kill and Lords and Lowly learn to die 

To serve the King and those I love I dearly would have played my part

But the doctors saved me for the hills to ease my over tender heart.

You smiled so sadly when you said ‘though I’d remain I’d be alone 

The carriage window framed your face above your spotless uniform

For women too must go to war although they face a different fight

And use their skills with broken men and help them face their fears at night.

I’d read your letters on the hill you told of madness mud and pain

How tired you were how angry with the wasted lives for little gain

Of quieter days when guns were cool and black birds sung where woods have gone

And how you’d wish to smell again a rose from Severn to the Somme.

I’ve walked through twisted woods and fields that fifty years of healing soothed 

The painful harvest garnered there defies a man to stand unmoved

I’ve seen the grave in which you lie my tears have washed the snowy stone

And there I left a single flower a rose from Severn to the Somme.