The Prelude opens with a chord,
Whose barbed-wire notes are grimly scored,
And from whose depths a melody is born,
A tune to make both Youth and Old Age mourn.
With bugle, fife and drum,
It tells us what’s to come.
Disharmony and tune compete:
No cheerful leitmotifs for those who wait,
But gas attacks and bayonets and hate.
A shrill, forbidding choir joins in,
And sings of shells, and next-of-kin,
And life amid the ruins of despair,
Where shrapnel-shaped crescendos fill the air.
A military beat,
From tired, arrhythmic feet,
Is tapped like Morse code with no scheme,
And warns that things aren’t what they seem.
The Prelude plays the coda’s closing phrase,
And rumour speaks of dark, demonic days.
As Youth prepares to be betrayed,
The Prelude’s final chord is played:
Off-key, off-beat, and fading far too fast,
This Prelude to the War could never last.
Its tense, unquiet calm,
Was simply War’s alarm,
Which woke up Albion, who found
Vast armies with no common ground
Prepare to fight, whilst trying to ignore,
What really happens when we go to war.