Remembrance Sunday 2018.

For the Fallen

a poem written by Written by Robert Laurence Binyon, (1869-1943), published in The Times newspaper on 21 September 1914. Even on the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War, it still has power.

 
Laurence Binyon

His portrait by the artist William Strang

 

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 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 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 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.

Robert Laurence Binyon

 

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Comments
7 Responses to “Remembrance Sunday 2018.”
  1. Blackswan says:

    THE ANZAC ON THE WALL

    I wandered thru a country town, ‘cos I had some time to spare,
    And went into an antique shop to see what was in there.
    Old Bikes and pumps and kero lamps, but hidden by it all,
    A photo of a soldier boy – an Anzac on the Wall.

    ‘The Anzac have a name?’ I asked. The old man answered ‘No’.
    The ones who could have told me mate, have passed on long ago.
    The old man kept on talking and, according to his tale,
    The photo was unwanted junk bought from a clearance sale.

    ‘I asked around’, the old man said, ‘but no-one knows his face,
    He’s been on that wall twenty years… Deserves a better place.
    For some-one must have loved him, so it seems a shame somehow.’
    I nodded in agreement and then said, ‘I’ll take him now.’

    My nameless digger’s photo, well it was a sorry sight
    A cracked glass pane and a broken frame – I had to make it right
    To prise the photo from its frame I took care just in case,
    Cause only sticky paper held the cardboard back in place.

    I peeled away the faded screed and much to my surprise,
    Two letters and a telegram appeared before my eyes
    The first reveals my Anzac’s name, and regiment of course
    John Mathew Francis Stuart – of Australia’s own Light Horse.

    This letter written from the front… My interest now was keen
    This note was dated August seventh 1917
    ‘Dear Mum, I’m at Khalasa Springs not far from the Red Sea
    They say it’s in the Bible – looks like a Billabong to me.

    ‘My Kathy wrote I’m in her prayers… she’s still my bride to be
    I just can’t wait to see you both, you’re all the world to me.
    And Mum you’ll soon meet Bluey, last month they shipped him out
    I told him to call on you when he’s up and about.’

    ‘That bluey is a larrikin, and we all thought it funny
    He lobbed a Turkish hand grenade into the CO’s dunny.
    I told you how he dragged me wounded, in from no man’s land
    He stopped the bleeding, closed the wound, with only his bare hand.’

    ‘Then he copped it at the front from some stray shrapnel blast
    It was my turn to drag him in and I thought he wouldn’t last.
    He woke up in hospital, and nearly lost his mind
    Cause out there on the battlefield he’d left one leg behind.’

    ‘He’s been in a bad way Mum, he knows he’ll ride no more
    Like me he loves a horse’s back, he was a champ before.
    So Please Mum can you take him in, he’s been like my own brother
    Raised in a Queensland orphanage he’ s never known a mother.’

    But Struth, I miss Australia Mum, and in my mind each day
    I am a mountain cattleman on high plains far away.
    I’m mustering white-faced cattle, with no camel’s hump in sight
    And I waltz my Matilda by a campfire every night

    I wonder who rides Billy, I heard the pub burnt down
    I’ll always love you and please say hooroo to all in town’.
    The second letter I could see, was in a lady’s hand
    An answer to her soldier son there in a foreign land.

    Her copperplate was perfect, the pages neat and clean
    It bore the date, November 3rd 1917.
    ‘T’was hard enough to lose your Dad, without you at the war
    I’d hoped you would be home by now – each day I miss you more’

    ‘Your Kathy calls around a lot since you have been away
    To share with me her hopes and dreams about your wedding day.
    And Bluey has arrived – and what a godsend he has been
    We talked and laughed for days about the things you’ve done and seen’

    ‘He really is a comfort, and works hard around the farm,
    I read the same hope in his eyes that you won’t come to harm.
    McConnell’s kids rode Billy, but suddenly that changed.
    We had a violent lightning storm, and it was really strange.’

    ‘Last Wednesday, just on midnight, not a single cloud in sight,
    It raged for several minutes, it gave us all a fright.
    It really spooked your Billy – and he screamed and bucked and reared
    And then he rushed the sliprail fence, which by a foot he cleared’

    ‘They brought him back next afternoon, but something’s changed I fear
    It’s like the day you brought him home, for no one can get near.
    Remember when you caught him with his black and flowing mane?
    Now Horse breakers fear the beast that only you can tame,’

    ‘That’s why we need you home son’ – then the flow of ink went dry-
    This letter was unfinished, and I couldn’t work out why.
    Until I started reading, the letter number three
    A yellow telegram delivered news of tragedy,

    Her son killed in action – oh – what pain that must have been
    The same date as her letter – 3rd November 1917
    This letter which was never sent, became then one of three
    She sealed behind the photo’s face – the face she longed to see.

    And John’s home town’s old timers – children when he went to war
    Would say no greater cattleman had left the town before.
    They knew his widowed mother well – and with respect did tell
    How when she lost her only boy she lost her mind as well.

    She could not face the awful truth, to strangers she would speak
    ‘My Johnny’s at the war you know, he’s coming home next week.’
    They all remembered Bluey he stayed on to the end.
    A younger man with wooden leg became her closest friend.

    And he would go and find her when she wandered old and weak
    And always softly say ‘yes dear – John will be home next week.’
    Then when she died Bluey moved on, to Queensland some did say.
    I tried to find out where he went, but don’t know to this day.

    And Kathy never wed – a lonely spinster some found odd.
    She wouldn’t set foot in a church – she’d turned her back on God.
    John’s mother left no Will I learned on my detective trail.
    This explains my photo’s journey, of that clearance sale.

    So I continued digging, cause I wanted to know more.
    I found John’s name with thousands, in the records of the war.
    His last ride proved his courage – a ride you will acclaim
    The Light Horse Charge at Beersheba of everlasting fame.

    That last day in October, back in 1917
    At 4pm our brave boys fell – that sad fact I did glean.
    That’s when John’s life was sacrificed, the record’s crystal clear
    But 4pm in Beersheba is midnight over here……

    So as John’s gallant spirit rose to cross the great divide,
    Were lightning bolts back home, a signal from the other side?
    Is that why Billy bolted and went racing as in pain?
    Because he’d never feel his master on his back again?

    Was it coincidental? same time – same day – same date?
    Some proof of numerology, or just a quirk of fate?
    I think it’s more than that you know, as I’ve heard wiser men,
    Acknowledge there are many things that go beyond our ken

    Where craggy peaks guard secrets ‘neath dark skies torn asunder,
    Where hoof-beats are companions to the rolling waves of thunder
    Where lightning cracks like 303’s and ricochets again
    Where howling moaning gusts of wind sound just like dying men.

    Some Mountain cattlemen have sworn on lonely alpine track,
    They’ve glimpsed a huge black stallion – Light Horseman on his back.
    Yes Sceptics say, it’s swirling clouds just forming apparitions
    Oh no, my friend you can’t dismiss all this as superstition.

    The desert of Beersheba – or windswept Aussie range,
    John Stuart rides on forever there – Now I don’t find that strange.
    Now some gaze upon this photo, and they often question me
    And I tell them a small white lie, and say he’s family.

    ‘You must be proud of him.’ they say – I tell them, one and all,
    That’s why he takes – the pride of place – my Anzac on the Wall.

    By Jim Brown

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Margaret Smith says:

    Lovely poem, Blackswan. Thank you.

    Like

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