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.