ANZAC Day: Lest We Forget

Ode of Remembrance

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.



As I woke up this morning at 3am to a spectacular thunderstorm outside my window my thoughts soon turned to those who would  be marching today, or attending the dawn services. I felt sad for those who chose to stay home because of the severe weather, and I felt sad for those who would still attend that this day of remembrance would be hinder by the weather, even if it was not as heavy or severe there.

But today isn’t just about the dawn services and the march, and there is a lot of power in ANZAC Day, so much can be said by so little. One of the things that always had the most impact on my was The Ode that is recited at every ANZAC or Remembrance Day. The Ode is taken from For the Fallen, a poem written by Laurence Binyon, an English poet and writer who published it first on September 21 in The Times then later in The Winnowing-fan: Poems of The Great War. The title comes from another of his poems The Fourth of August, and while people know For the Fallen, there are many other excellent poems in his book about the war and impacts from it.

Binyon wrote For the Fallen against the background of the early weeks of war. In September, less than seven weeks since war broke out, there were already severe casualties with a long list of dead or wounded appearing in newspapers. It was from this that the poem came to be, written, according to Binyon,  not long after The Great Retreat (also known as the Retreat From Mons) and the victory from The Battle of the Marne. The Ode comes from the fourth stanza, and is a simple yet powerful message that reminds us what war can bring about, and what it can take away, while still having the power of honouring all those who came before and sadly no doubt will come again.

For those who have fought in our wars, from the ANZACS until now, thank you.

Binyon’s complete poem is below if you’d like to read it.


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 music in the midst of desolation
And glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow,
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
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 of home,
They have no lot in our labour of the daytime,
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires and 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 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.


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