Nothing But Mud


William Orpen (1878-1931)

Nothing But Mud was one of several works commissioned by New Dublin Voices presentation, "In Time of War," featuring reflections on WWI by Irish poets.

"Major Sir William Newenham Montague Orpen, (1878-1931) was born at Stillogoran, County Dublin. During the First World War, he was the most prolific of the official war artists on the Western Front. He produced drawings and paintings of ordinary soldiers, the dead, and German prisoners of war, as well as portraits of generals and politicians. He donated 138 of his works to the British government and they are now held or displayed in the Imperial War Museum, London.  Orpen portrayed the awful conditions that men experienced at "The Front", in his poem The Church, Zillebeke, October 1918. The mud landscape that became synonymous with the Battle of Passchendaele was unimaginable to the ordinary civilian back home, and Orpen's poem attempts to describe it."  —from (©The Royal irish)

This rich, dense and evocative setting is apporopriate for advanced mixed ensembles.


Item Voicing/Instrumentation Duration Price Audio View Score Quantity
available as PDF only
SSAATTBB, a capella 4:30 $2.95

The Church, Zillebeke, October 1918

William Orpen


Everywhere –

Nothing but mud.

The very air seems thick with it,

The few tufts of grass are all smeared with it –


The Church a heap of it;

One look, and weep for it.

That’s what they’ve made of it –


Slimy and wet,

Churned and upset;

Here Bones that once mattered

With crosses lie scattered,

Broken and battered,

Covered in mud,

Here, where the Church’s bell

Tolled when our heroes fell

In that mad start of hell –


That’s all that’s left of it – mud!


available as PDF only