The first war, the war of 14 to 18
Begins with an uprising of adrenalin
The first war begins with the testicles descending
& desire assassinating the child that you once were

The war begins at school
When you rebel against the maths teacher
Who touched you up behind his desk
& ends when you fail your final maths exam
& have your first success with sex

The war brings new discoveries
How to make dog fights with your thyroid & pituitary glands
How the Zeppelin can fly at your command

& a generation lays down its life
When after all they've done for you
The good parents
The good parents die
Resurrected as your enemy

& when the girl you've started wanting
More than all you've ever wanted says no
She is your enemy too

But you survive

& from the trenches of your newly found opinions
Freshly dug, quickly abandoned
The white flag waves for an armistice on Christmas Day
Then your voice rings round the family front room
Like a drill sergeant's in front of his platoon
Broken too soon

But you survive

The second war, the war of 39 to 45
Begins when you identify your own inner Third Reich
The second war begins with a sudden hypochondria
A visit to a doctor who waves a piece of paper & says
"This time it's just a false alarm"

The war begins at work with some intoxicating news
When the letter comes that offers you promotion
& ends when you decide to let them offer it
To younger men with more ambition

The war brings new perspectives
When you suddenly see through
The politics of power which possessed you
Through all your working hours

& a generation lays down its life
When the whiz kids of the industry
Slow down
Slow down & die
Resurrected as your enemy

& when the woman who accepted you
When all the rest rejected you goes
She is your enemy too

But you survive

& at weekends you get custody of an only child
Already adolescent & unreconciled
Who laughs at you, you & your new-found piety
& his laugh rings round your faint desire for god
Like an order from an inner firing squad
Breaking the ties of blood
But you survive

But the third war is the war that never comes
The war that never comes to everyone
Begins the second after next by accident
Ends everything except itself

The war brings nothing
The unimaginable
Which the old imagine all the time
Imagine imagination dying

& a generation lays down its life
When it refuses the creation
Of new ways
New ways to live

& when the great invention falls apart
Ripping through the atoms of your heart
The third war will start

Which no-one survives

Lyrics submitted by vchamberlain

Three Wars song meanings
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