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Gethsemane

[words Rudyard Kipling, music Peter Bellamy]

Rudyard Kipling wrote Gethsemane after the First World War. It was printed in The Years Between (Methuen 1919). Peter Bellamy sang it in 1989 on his album Rudyard Kipling Made Exceedingly Good Songs. He commented in the sleeve notes:

Every soldier's fear before action expressed in this moist poignant First World War poem.

Lyrics

1914-18

The Garden called Gethsemane
    In Picardy it was,
And there the people came to see
    The English soldiers pass.
We used to pass—we used to pass
    Or halt, as it might be,
And ship our masks in case of gas
    Beyond Gethsemane.

The Garden called Gethsemane,
    It held a pretty lass,
But all the time she talked to me
    I prayed my cup might pass.
The officer sat on the chair,
    The men lay on the grass,
And all the time we halted there
    I prayed my cup might pass—

It didn’t pass—it didn’t pass—
    It didn’t pass from me.
I drank it when we met the gas
    Beyond Gethsemane.