Hic Jacet

Chloë and Jason Roweth
Language: English

Related Songs

The Butcher's Tale (Western Front 1914)
The Sleeper Cutters’ Camp
(Chloë and Jason Roweth)
Tranchées 1914

Versi di Thomas Henry “Crosscut” Wilson (1867-1925), poeta australiano che combattè volontario a Gallipoli (mentendo sulla propria età, che non avrebbe potuto arruolarsi a 47 anni).
Musica di Bob Rummery, cantante, musicista e ricercatore folklorico australiano.
Nel disco intitolato “The Riderless Horse - An Australian Impression of World War 1” (2004) in cui i Roweth, musicisti australiani, hanno raccolto più di 30 canzoni e poesie dal primo e dal secondo fronte durante la Grande Guerra.

Una poesia sulla pietà umana.
Nel novembre del 1916 a Thomas Wilson fu ordinato di andare a seppellire il cadavere di un soldato turco, ucciso vicino alle linee dell’ANZAC, che stava lì ormai da giorni a putrefarsi, appestando l’aria. Convinto di riuscire a fare tutto in fretta e senza vomitare, il nostro soldato scopre stretta nella mano del nemico, ridotta ormai ad una poltiglia nauseabonda, la foto di un bellissimo bambino con una dedica in turco, incomprensibile ma per nulla difficile da capire…
Ecco che allora quella squallida operazione che Thomas Wilson avrebbe voluto concludere il più rapidamente possibile si trasforma nelle esequie solenni del nemico caduto, un uomo come lui, un uomo come tutti…

I buried a Turk in a darksome gorge by officer's orders one evening grey –
I had finished my 'twenty-four hours on' and was leaving the trench at the close of day.
"You must dig him in" - and the officer smiled; "he'll need no volleys or muffled drums –
He's been in the sun for a week or so, and it's perfectly awful the way he hums!"

So I filled my pipe ('twas a needful thing), and I got in a blast ere I ventured near.
And I found him lying in shape grotesque 'neath an ominous cliff that was grey and sheer.
He’d crawled to a shelter of prickly scrub - and I never could tell you how looked his face –
But his horrible eyes were blindly turned to a thing he held - 'twas a portrait case!

Though little I worried for sights, and smells, but this was a sight that it hurt to see,
For I fancied he clutched it in mute appeal ... and he seemed to be holding it out to me.
And little and all as I liked the job, ere I started to cover him o’er with sand,
I dropped me shovel and pick, and stooped and took the thing from his grisly hand.

Oh! piteous thing in the sight of death - 'twas the face of a beautiful dark-eyed boy:
A kiddie of six years old or so, who hugged to his bosom some childish toy.
And his teeth peeped out in a roguish smile, and round the forehead the dark curls clung –
As pretty a picture as e’er was seen of cherubic innocence sweet and young.

Some wonderful writing in big, wide text was scrawled on the back of the photograph.
And I said, "Old fellow" - to him who lay -"would you ask for a lovelier epitaph?"
'Twas Turkish of course, and I could but guess but in good British I'll swear 'twas this:
"With love to daddy, and please come home". . . and marked with a crescent to mean a kiss.

There's little of sentiment one can feel when it's each for himself in the firing line
But I couldn't but mutter a useless prayer that he hadn't gone under to shot of mine.
And I pictured the woman who sits at home and waits with a longing supine and dumb
For the `daddy' who lay in the darksome gorge - for the steps of a husband that ne'er will come.

The shades of evening were drawing nigh ... and a soldier has always work to do,
But I laid the picture upon his chest ere ever a shovel of dirt I threw,
And I fashioned his mansion as best I could and I patted it even and smooth and fair.
And I stood to attention and raised my hand in a last salute as I left him there.

Contributed by Bernart Bartleby - 2014/8/7 - 11:39

Main Page

Please report any error in lyrics or commentaries to

Note for non-Italian users: Sorry, though the interface of this website is translated into English, most commentaries and biographies are in Italian and/or in other languages like French, German, Spanish, Russian etc.

hosted by