The Applicant

A number of Dawn Fraser’s poems express the sentiments of returned veterans who faced the hardships and trials of World War One. Upon their return to Cape Breton Island they faced further suffering. This song, The Applicant, outlines some of the after-effects of what war does to human beings.

LYRICS

It’s very kind of you, Mum, to call to see my Dan.
Since he came back he seems to be a very wreck of man;
I think it must be German gas, still inside his head,
He talks of places back in France and lads that now are dead.
Oh, thank you for the flowers—I’ll put them with the rest—
Would you believe, he seems to like these maple leaves the best;
And yet when he’s beside them, it’s awful how he grieves,
And often I have heard him talking to the leaves.
Sometimes he will be laughing, then again he’ll sob,
And talking to the leaves about the way he done his job.
You see, he went away to France, he and his brother Joe;
I didn’t try to stop them, they wanted so to go.
That’s more than four years gone now, when the war begun,
It seemed every mother’s duty to give away her son.
But when I think about it, it makes me very sad

Dan looked so big and grand that day, and now he looks so bad.
And they fought in different countries—France, Belgium and in Somme,
In Vimy, Flanders, Passchendaele—but now poor Joe is gone;
No doubt you heard about it, the papers all were filled,
Was in this place they call the Somme that my boy Joe was killed.
But Dan is only bad at times when the gas is in his head,
When he came in the other day I remember what he said;
It’s only when he loses heart that the poor lad really grieves,
And then he will start all over, talking to the leaves.
About the last job he had, and how he done his best;
He has his recommend with him, the button on his breast.
Talks about the trenches, the cold and wounds and pain,
How he starved and waited; now must he starve again?
He says how in the morning he must see another man—
It’s very kind of you, Mum, to call to see my Dan.

By VICTOR TOMICZEK

 VICTOR TOMICZEK – ACOUSTIC GUITAR AND VOCALS, CAROLYN LIONAIS – BACKUP VOCALS, COLIN GRANT – VIOLIN 

About Victor Tomiczek

Victor Tomiczek spent his childhood walking various picket lines around Cape Breton Island with his family. He started writing songs and performing them on his own and with his band Ladyslippers. Victor also plays banjo for the Tom Fun Orchestra. He’s been known to shoot bb guns at unsuspecting bottles.

Resources

World War One was still on the minds of many Cape Bretoners in the early 1920s. This song, composed by Dawn Fraser, outlines the suffering of veterans and their families in the aftermath of the War. In introducing one of his other poems about World War One, “The Reward,” Fraser expresses his sentiments about this time:

The following rhyme was written with prophetic vision early in 1917. We do not claim that the condition is general, but we do say that it is not uncommon. It is an open question among returned men today whether to wear the button is an advantage or otherwise. Our own attitude is undecided, but we certainly have heard returned men say that displaying the button handicaps them socially and in a business way. An old lady told me that she would not have returned men around her house, as anybody who was full of cooties for four years was likely to have an odd one still about his person. Perhaps there is some excuse for this idea, but is it not a sad condition to find that returned men are hiding their buttons as if they were ashamed of them? 1[1] Fraser. Echoes from Labour’s War (Toronto: New Hogtown Press, 1978),p. 44.

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