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Let England Shake

Een album uit 2011 met songs over de Eerste Wereldoorlog.

Albert van der Kaap, Enschede, albert@vanderkaap.org      


Let England Shake

In 2011 maakte PJ Harvey het album Let England Shake, met songs over de Eerste Wereldoorlog dat van het Britse muziekblad NME  een 10/10 kreeg. Journalist Mike Williams beschreef de kracht van het album als volgt:

“Francis Ford Coppola can lay claim to the war movie. Ernest Hemingway the war novel. Polly Jean Harvey, a 41-year-old from Dorset, has claimed the war album.”

De rode draad door Let England Shake is de oorlog die het einde van de Britse wereldhegemonie in luidde en meer in het bijzonder de slag bij Gallipoli. Een slag die in ons land nauwelijks bekend is, maar in bijvoorbeeld Australië nog jaarlijks op 25 april groots herdacht word, ANZAC-day.

In 1915 begon de Britse marine aan de Dardanellencampagne, een van de vele voorbeelden van de zinloosheid van de Eerste Wereldoorlog. De Slag bij Gallipoli resulteerde in een half miljoen doden, zonder een meter terreinwinst.

  • Let England Shake

    The West's asleep. Let England shake,
    weighted down with silent dead.
    I fear our blood won't rise again.

    England's dancing days are done.
    Another day, Bobby, for you to come home
    & tell me indifference won.

    Smile, smile Bobby, with your lovely mouth.
    Pack up your troubles, let's head out
    to the fountain of death
    & splash about, swim back and forth
    & laugh out loud,

    until the day is ending,
    & the birds are silent in the branches,
    & the insects are courting in the bushes,
    & by the shores of lovely lakes
    heavy stones are falling.

  • All and everyone
    De Slag bij Gallipoli in All and Everyone, waarin ze beschrijft hoe in de volle zon de dood kwam voor een ieder die de strook strand op trok.

    Death was everywhere,
    in the air
    and in the sounds
    coming off the mounds
    of Bolton's Ridge.
    Death's anchorage.
    When you rolled a smoke
    or told a joke,
    it was in the laughter
    and drinking water
    it approached the beach
    as strings of cutters,
    dropped into the sea and lay around us.

    Death was in the ancient fortress,
    shelled by a million bullets
    from gunners, waiting in the copses
    with hearts that threatened to pop their boxes,
    as we advanced into the sun
    death was all and everyone.

    Death hung in the smoke and clung
    to 400 acres of useless beachfront.
    A bank of red earth, dripping down death
    now, and now, and now
    in the air
    and in the sounds
    coming off the mounds
    of Bolton's Ridge.
    Death's anchorage.
    Death was in the staring sun,
    fixing its eyes on everyone.
    It rattled the bones of the Light Horsemen
    still lying out there in the open

    as we, advancing in the sun
    sing "Death to all and everyone." 

  • The words that maketh murder
    In The Words That Maketh Murder worden de persoonlijke ervaringen van een loopgraafsoldaat beschreven ("I’ve seen and done things I want to forget, I have seen soldiers fall like loafs of meat"). Diit alles zeer beeldend.

    I've seen and done things I want to forget;
    I've seen soldiers fall like lumps of meat,
    Blown and shot out beyond belief.
    Arms and legs were in the trees.

    I've seen and done things I want to forget;
    coming from an unearthly place,
    Longing to see a woman's face,
    Instead of the words that gather pace,
    The words that maketh murder.

    These, these, these are the words-
    The words that maketh murder.
    These, these, these are the words-
    The words that maketh murder.
    These, these, these are the words-

    These, these, these are the words-
    The words that maketh murder.

    I've seen and done things I want to forget;
    I've seen a corporal whose nerves were shot
    Climbing behind the fierce, gone sun,
    I've seen flies swarming everyone,
    Soldiers fell like lumps of meat.

    These are the words, the words are these.
    death lingering, stunk,
    Flies swarming everyone,
    Over the whole summit peak,
    Flesh quivering in the heat.
    This was something else again.
    I fear it cannot be explained.
    The words that make, the words that make

    What if I take my problem to the United Nations?

  • Hanging in the wire
    Bij goede beluistering van de teksten zie je het niemandsland voor je. Losse ledematen in de bomen, het continu gegier van granaten over het modderige landschap. De doordraaiende soldaat. De soldaat hangend in het prikkeldraad in Niemandsland

    Walker sees the mist rise
    Over no man's land
    He sees in front of him
    A smashed up waste ground
    There are no fields or trees
    No blades of grass
    Just unhurried ghosts are there
    Hanging in the wire

    Walker's in the wire
    Limbs point upwards
    There are no birds singing
    The white cliffs of Dover

    There are no trees to sing from
    Walker cannot hear the wind
    Far off symphony
    To hear the guns beginning

    Walker's in the mist
    Rising over no man's land
    In the battered waste ground
    Hear the guns firing

  • On Battleship Hill

    The scent of Thyme carried on the wind,
    stings your face into remembering
    cruel nature has won again.

    On Battleship Hill's caved in trenches,
    a hateful feeling still lingers,
    even now, 80 years later.
    Cruel nature.
    Cruel, cruel nature.

    The land returns to how it has always been.
    The scent of Thyme carried on the wind.
    Jagged mountains, jutting out,
    cracked like teeth in a rotten mouth.
    On Battleship Hill I hear the wind,
    Say "Cruel nature has won again.

  • The Colour of the Earth

    Louis was my dearest friend
    Fighting in the ANZAC trench
    Louis ran forward from the line
    I never saw him again
    Later in the dark
    I thought I heard Louis' voice
    Calling for his mother, then me
    But I couldn't get to him
    He's still up on that hill
    20 years on that hill

    Nothing more than a pile of bones
    But I think of him still
    If I was asked I'd tell
    The colour of the earth that day
    It was dull and browny red
    The colour of blood, I'd say 



 P.J. Harvey

 Let England Shake

Copyright:  Albert van der Kaap, 2011