English poet Laurence Binyon, overwhelmed by the carnage and loss of life by British and Allied forces in World War 1, penned one of the most moving tributes the world has known to our war dead.
Titled ‘For the Fallen’, the poem first appeared in The Times of London on 21 September 1914, and has since become known as ‘Ode of Remembrance’.
It has been used in association with commemoration services in Australia since 1921.
For the Fallen
(also known as the Ode of Remembrance)
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 her 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 not grow 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 daytime,
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 will 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.