When Billy-o’s daddy came home from the war he said Billy-o don’t you go, no Billy-o don’t you go.
That’s all the man wanted to say as he took to his tea and tapped out a ditty on the old tin caddy.
But Billy-o wanted to know. He wanted to know why he should not go. So Billy-o’s daddy stirred his tea and looked at the pocket watch he’d brought back from the front and said hush now Billy-o, just don’t go.
But this was before Billy-o ever saw a clock and before Billy-o ever was dead and so Billy-o just asked and asked with a why not daddy, why not, why not. So Billy-o’s daddy said see this spoon, this old pitted spoon? Your grandaddy gave me this spoon. He told me he’d took it away to the front and he used it to stir as the kettle whistled and the bullets sang. He liked his tea strong and each sugar was home. One for his daddy and one for his mammy and one for his dear me and one for himself. So don’t you go, Billy-o, don’t you go. There’s not enough sugar to remind you of home.
But Billy-o wanted to know what do they do when they’re not stirring tea, what do they do and why shouldn’t I go?
These things would not be said and so daddy just stirred. He said nothing. Nothing of the rain and mud and the blood. He said nothing. Of the cries and the tears in the darkening nights he said nothing. Nothing of faces lost in a bang and nothing of tea mugs left by the stand. He said nothing except don’t go, Billy-o, don’t go.
Then his grandmammy sang and though Billy-o cried he didn’t dare go
but daddy-o did