It’s the fifth of January,
As I marched on the river Marne,
I sling my Gewehr across my arm.
It’s a good day to die, along with the twelve hundred.
The ground we walk on holds a terrible price for we twelve hundred and more.
The Union Jack’s red has run dry.
The Tricolor’s blue weeps for its bygone innocence.
The Iron Cross’ gleam has worn away.
The wails of the six inchers drown out our sorrow,
Our reprieve shattered as shell meets bone.
The screams of the dying match the screams of the brave, as we twelve hundred march in song,
“Four by four! We march down the roads that our fathers bled for,”
“We march for glory- we march for war.”
The machine guns scream and the howitzers rail, as our captive song runs dry.
On and on, we marched from glee,
From childhood adulation to walking dream.
Onward we march, we, the twelve hundred.
The wires are in sight now! The river runs red.
The bodies of the twelve hundred still rest on them.
They creak and snap as we trod right over them.
Bones do not snap under the weight of a single man,
They shatter under the fighting retreat of twelve hundred.
Down and down my comrades went,
The tracers and mortars are coming far too near!
And just like that, in the span of an hour,
The fighting advance of the twelve hundred broke into the retreat of one hundred.
Just like the twelve hundred before it.
Eleven hundred of the Kaiser’s best, lost to the river,
Gone like the hasty graves in the French countryside, as the earth exacts vengeance for its pain.
Gone like the poison gas in the trenches, as the fresh spring wind blows by.
Gone like the honor and purpose of the war, the civility of man being laid bare for shame.
Gone like the other twelve hundred, in the fields and the flame, lost to the river, never to bear a name.