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A poem by Cicely Fox-Smith (1882–1954), set to music by Chris Green.

lyrics

There's a town I know in Flanders, and there's not much else to say
But it's pretty much like most towns when the war has passed its way
There's tumbled shops and houses and brickbats everywhere
And a place that British soldiers call Half-Past Eleven Square

There's an old town clock stuck up there that's forgotten how to chime
With its frozen fingers always pointing to the same old time
And the world it keeps on turning, but it makes no difference there
For it's never any later in Half-Past Eleven Square

There's a stench of mustard gas now where the people lived before,
Who it used to tell the time to when there wasn't any war
But the whizzbangs burst by daytime and at night the starshells glare
So who cares what the time is in Half-Past Eleven Square?

You could walk for half-a-day there and there's not a soul to meet
In the empty smashed-up houses and the empty sandbagged street
They've packed their baggage long since and they've gone for change of air
'Cos you can bet that it's no health resort – Half-Past Eleven Square

And it only wakes up sometimes when the armies come and go
With the transports and the wounded and the big guns crawling slow
But let them come or let them go, the old clock doesn't care
If it's Fritz or Tommy marching through Half Past Eleven Square

But it's waiting, yes it's waiting 'til the world goes on once more
And the folk come back to live there as they used to live before
And open wide the broken door and climb the shattered stair
And move along its fingers in Half Past Eleven Square

Yes, it's waiting, waiting, waiting, just the same as you and me
For the same world only better then the old one used to be
And I've got a crazy notion that I wish I could be there
When twelve o'clock is striking in Half Past Eleven Square

credits

from The Men Who Marched Away: Songs of the Great War, released September 15, 2014
Sophie Matthews - voice

Chris Green - voice, piano, accordion

Fat Cat Strings - string quartet

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GreenMatthews Coventry, UK

Chris Green and Sophie Matthews play English traditional songs and tunes in a thoroughly 21st-century kick-ass style. Using a blend of ancient instruments such as cittern, English bagpipes and shawm as well as modern folk instruments such as guitar, flute and piano accordion, they breathe new life into material from hundreds of years ago, making it fresh and relevant for a modern audience. ... more

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