Guest poem submitted by Stephanie Pegg: A poem for ANZAC Day (25 April):
(Poem #765) For The Fallen
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children, England mourns for her dead across the sea. Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit, Fallen in the cause of the free. Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres. There is a music in the midst of desolation And a glory that shines upon our tears. They went with songs to the battle, they were young, Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow. They were staunch to the end against odds uncountered: They fell with their faces to the foe. They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them. They mingle not with their laughing comrades again; They sit no more at familiar tables at home; They have no lot in our labour of the day-time; They sleep beyond England's foam. But where our desires are and our hopes profound, Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight, To the innermost heart of their own land they are known As the stars are known to the Night; As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust, Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain; As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness, To the end, to the end they remain.
I think the most quoted passage in this poem is the fourth stanza, but I always remember it for the last two lines -- "As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness / To the end, to the end they remain" purely for the beauty of the image. I don't know much about Laurence Binyon, except that he wrote this poem in September, 1914. It gets quoted a lot on war memorial days. [ANZAC Day] ANZAC stands for the Australia New Zealand Army Corps. It was formed by combining the Australian Imperial Force and the New Zealand Expeditionary Force stationed in Egypt in 1914. On the 25 of April 1915 the Corps was part of an assault on Gallipoli. By the time its soldiers were evacuated in December 1915, 2721 New Zealanders and 8000 Australians had died. (To give a sense of scale, New Zealand's population had just reached a million people 7 years earlier.) This was the first major participation in a war by either country and at the time the incident was used to get a lot of nationalistic fervour going. Since then the 25th of April has been the war memorial day in both Australia and New Zealand. [Links] [broken link] http://www.geocities.com/~spanoudi/poems/binyon01.html - Poems by Laurence Binyon http://www.sassoonery.demon.co.uk/binyon.htm - A biography http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/Gallery/Anzac/Anzac.htm - Good NZ resource, essays, biographies, list of casualties, maps etc [broken link] http://www.ozbird.com/anzacstory.htm - the Aussie point of view Stephanie.