WHAT IF?… a child’s song about peace…

Harris and his daughter, Ariana, in early 1972...

WHAT IF WE COULD?… a children’s song about peace



What if we could find a way to start

To ease the pain in every broken heart

What if we could wipe the slate quite clean

Of ev’ry trace of hate there’s ever been

What if no mother’s scream should pierce the night

What if no little child should wake in fright

What if we could live in harmony

What a perfect place this earth could be


What if no-one ever lived in fear

Ev’ry street was safe for walking here

What if the lion lay down with the lamb

Altogether in the promised land

What if the bombs should cease to rend and burn

What if each soldier’s face should homeward turn

What a perfect place this earth could be

Always peaceful, everyone walks free


What if we could find a way to start

Heal the wounds in every broken heart

What if ev’ry shade and hue of skin

Knew each other as their next of kin

 What if we were no longer moved by greed

But each one sought to meet the other’ need

What if we did what we know is right

Each one light a candle in the night


What if we could find a way to start

To ease the pain in every broken heart

What if we did what we know is right

Each one light a candle in the night


Copyright © 2012 Harris Smart


Harris writes…

I wrote that song “What if…?” and recorded it with a Filipina singer, Christina del Mundo (Christina of all the World!).

The producer of the record produced his eight year old son to be one of the children’s voices, and the other we found in a little Italian girl living in the neighbourhood.

I thought I would make a video and put it on youtube. How to make a video on zero budget? I remembered I had a scrap of super-8 footage taken of my daughter, Ariana, when she was two years old in 1972. I wondered if it would go with the song at all.

We were living in Kew, a suburb of Melbourne, when the film was shot. We lived in an old rambling farmhouse, more than 100 years old, the original house in this area. The floors were uneven, and there wasn’t a right angle left in the place, but we loved it. It suited us perfectly.

It was cheap and charming and had lots of rooms and was on a huge block of land. All around us the land had been divided up into “units” but the owner of this one refused to sell. She had a daughter who lived in America and she had this dream that one day the daughter would come home and want to live in this place.

We had inherited a sheep from the previous owners. The sheep was the only way to keep the grass down on the enormous block, but apart from that the sheep was a nuisance and a pest. It always killed any trees we planted by eating the bark off them. No matter how we tried to guard the trees, the sheep would always find a way to get through the protection and nibble the bark

Another problem was that it liked to butt Ariana, our eighteen months’ old daughter. We would be in the house and we would hear Ariana’s pitiful cries and we would run out into the backyard to find that the sheep had knocked her over and was now trying to butt her into the ground. We would chase the sheep away and bring Ariana inside and clean and comfort her, and as soon as she’d stopped crying, she’d go running out into the back yard again to play with the sheep. And the whole cycle would be repeated.

Not only did we have our own sheep, but at the back of our land was another big vacant piece of land which was the council pound. This is where they put any stray animals they happened to find. Horses, goats, sheep, an ever- changing menagerie. Once there was even an elephant that had wandered off from a travelling circus. Ariana and her little friends like to go and play with the animals in the pound (but not when the elephant was there!).

One morning…

One morning I came out early to breakfast. It was a cold winter’s morning. The sun had just risen, blood red. In our living room there was a large picture window looking out onto the back garden. I made a bowl of porridge and ate it standing in front of this window looking out into the garden.

I noticed a patch of white, like frost on the ground. Then I noticed another and another. Then I saw some patches of white trailing from one of the bushes. This was strange. Not like frost. What could it be? It might be snow. Just very occasionally, once every 30 years or so, snow falls in the city of Melbourne. Perhaps it was snow. I went outside to investigate.

I examined one of the patches trailing from the bush. It was wool. Wool? What is this doing here? The patches on the ground were also wool.

Then I found the sheep. She was standing shivering beneath a tree, terribly lacerated and stripped of almost all her wool. A pack of dogs must have come in the night and attacked her. How sad it seemed we had not heard a sound. She must have suffered in silence, perhaps for hours, while the dogs tormented her.

I called my wife, Margy, and we wrapped the sheep in a blanket and got her into the car and took her to the vet. The vet said there was nothing he could do. We brought her home and put her in the shed, wrapped in blankets. Margy hand-fed her for three days, but on the third day she died.

Long ago and far away…

That was long ago and far away. My daughter is 40 now. I wondered if the scrap of Super-8 film of my daughter and her friend playing in the pound would fit the song. In a loose kind of way, the images did go with the song. Children playing, sheep.

The song was exactly 3 minutes and 17 seconds long. When I placed the Super-8 against the song I found that, without any edits, the film also ran for exactly 3 minutes and 17 seconds.

If you would like to read more about the Melbourne suburb of Kew and Harris and his daughter go to the Editor’s Blog to read “A Walk with my Daughter”.