Friday, April 25, 2008

War Poetry

In Flanders fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae (1872–1918)

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 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.

Laurence Binyon (1869–1943)

Beach Burial

Softly and humbly to the Gulf of Arabs
The convoys of dead sailors come;
At night they sway and wander in the waters far under,
But morning rolls them in the foam.

Between the sob and clubbing of gunfire
Someone, it seems, has time for this,
To pluck them from the shallows and bury them in burrows
And tread the sand upon their nakedness;

And each cross, the driven stake of tidewood,
Bears the last signature of men,
Written with such perplexity, with such bewildered pity,
The words choke as they begin -

"Unknown seaman" - the ghostly pencil
Wavers and fades, the purple drips,
The breath of wet season has washed their inscriptions
As blue as drowned men's lips,

Dead seamen, gone in search of the same landfall,
Whether as ememies they fought,
Or fought with us, or neither; the sand joins them together,
Enlisted on the other front.

Kenneth Slessor

Turkish Prayer

Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives,
you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us here:
they lie side by side here in this country of ours.

You, the mothers who sent your sons from far away countries,
wipe away your tears;
Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.

After having lost their lives on this land,
they have become our sons as well.

Kemal Ataturk, the Commander of the Turkish 19th Division during the Gallipoli Campaign and the first President of the Turkish Republic from 1924-1938

Tribute to the Australian serviceman

At the going down of the sun...
I crouched in a shallow trench on that hell of exposed beaches... steeply rising foothills bare of cover... a landscape pockmarked with war’s inevitable litter... piles of stores... equipment... ammunition... and the weird contortions of death sculptured in Australian flesh... I saw the going down of the sun on that first ANZAC Day... the chaotic maelstrom of Australia’s blooding.

I fought in the frozen mud of the Somme... in a blazing destroyer exploding on the North Sea... I fought on the perimeter at Tobruk... crashed in the flaming wreckage of a fighter in New Guinea... lived with the damned in the place cursed with the name Changi.

I was your mate... the kid across the street... the med. student at graduation... the mechanic in the corner garage... the baker who brought you bread... the gardener who cut your lawn... the clerk who sent your phone bill.

I was an Army private... a Naval commander... an Air Force bombardier. no man knows me... no name marks my tomb, for I am every Australian serviceman... I am the Unknown Soldier.

I died for a cause I held just in the service of my land... that you and yours may say in freedom... I am proud to be an Australian.

A poignant tribute to the Australian serviceman, hangs in the offices of the Queensland State Headquarters of the RSL.


loobyloo said...

very moving..................

Ken said...

Kia Ora from across the ditch to all me Anzac Mates. Anzac Day means so much to me as Patty knows,I didnt get a chance to wear my medals as I always do with the pride that they deserve, but unfortunately the 'flu has hit both Emelda and I with a wallop and we have not been able to be get out. But we have been just about glued to the TV all day from the first dawn service here in NZ. We have seen some of the dawn service from your side of of the Tasman as well as the Street Parade in Sydney. Then tonight there was a special documentary on Tv about Corporal Willie Apiata of the NZ SAS who was awarded the VC last year for his actions in saving a comrade in an ambush in Afghanistan. This documentary is well worth viewing. If it is shown overseas ( which I am certain it will) The title is "Reluctant Hero" I wont tell you much more about it so I don't spoil it for anyone. As always on this so important day it was one that I am not ashamed to admit brought many tears to the eyes as I see what the Anzacs from both sides of the ditch have suffered.The words of the solemn poems shown on Patty's Blog have so much meaning. I know that the discovery of the resting place of HMAS Sydney means so much relief for the families of all the sailors who served on her,-They know exactly where they rest. I salute all who have suffered through these useless wars, and to those who gave their lives I would like to say "We will remember them- LEST WE FORGET." Kenny