[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Guns At The Front

Man, simple and brave, easily confiding,
Giving his all, glad of the sun's sweetness,
Heeding little of pitiful incompleteness,
Mending life with laughter and cheerful chiding,

Where is he?--I see him not, but I hear
Sounds, charged with nothing but death and maiming;
Earth and sky empty of all but flaming
Bursts, and shocks that stun the waiting ear;

Monsters roaring aloud with hideous vastness,
Nothing, Nothing, Nothing! And man that made them
Mightier far than himself, has stooped, and obeyed them,
Schooled his mind to endure its own aghastness,

Serving death, destruction, and things inert,--
He the soarer, free of heavens to roam in,
He whose heart has a world of light to home in,
Confounding day with darkness, flesh with dirt.

Oh, dear indeed the cause that so can prove him,
Pitilessly self--tested! If no cause beaconed
Beyond this chaos, better he bled unreckoned,
With his own monsters bellowing madness above him.

By Laurence Binyon
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Men of Verdun

There are five men in the moonlight
That by their shadows stand;
Three hobble humped on crutches,
And two lack each a hand.

Frogs somewhere near the roadside
Chorus their chant absorbed:
But a hush breathes out of the dream-light
That far in heaven is orbed.

It is gentle as sleep falling
And wide as thought can span,
The ancient peace and wonder
That brims the heart of man.

Beyond the hills it shines now
On no peace but the dead,
On reek of trenches thunder-shocked,
Tense fury of wills in wrestle locked,
A chaos crumbled red!

The five men in the moonlight
Chat, joke, or gaze apart.
They talk of days and comrades,
But each one hides his heart.

They wear clean cap and tunic,
As when they went to war;
A gleam comes where the medal’s pinned:
But they will fight no more.

The shadows, maimed and antic,
Gesture and shape distort,
Like mockery of a demon dumb
Out of the hell-din whence they come
That dogs them for his sport:

But as if dead men were risen
And stood before me there
With a terrible fame about them blown
In beams of spectral air,

I see them, men transfigured
As in a dream, dilate
Fabulous with the Titan-throb
Of battling Europe’s fate;

For history’s hushed before them,
And legend flames afresh,—
Verdun, the name of thunder,
Is written on their flesh.

By Laurence Binyon

Battle of Verdun, Feb. 21-Dec. 18, 1916
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Ode to 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 are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end they remain.

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.

By Laurence Binyon
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
The Test

Naked reality, and menace near
As fire to scorching flesh, shall not affright
The spirit that sees, with danger--sharpened sight,
What it must save or die for; not the mere
Name, but the thing, now doubly, trebly dear,
Freedom; the breath those hands would choke; the light
They would put out; the clean air they would blight,
Making earth rank with hate, and greed, and fear.

Now no man's loss is private: all share all.
Oh, each of us a soldier stands to--day,
Put to the proof and summoned to the call;
One will, one faith, one peril. Hearts, be high,
Most in the hour that's darkest! Come what may,
The soul in us is found, and shall not die.

By Laurence Binyon
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Edith Cavell

She was binding the wounds of her enemies when they came—
The lint in her hand unrolled.
They battered the door with their rifle-butts, crashed it in:
She faced them gentle and bold.

They haled her before the judges where they sat
In their places, helmet on head.
With question and menace the judges assailed her, “Yes,
I have broken your law,” she said.

“I have tended the hurt and hidden the hunted, have done
As a sister does to a brother,
Because of a law that is greater than that you have made,
Because I could do none other.

“Deal as you will with me. This is my choice to the end,
To live in the life I vowed.”
“She is self-confessed,” they cried; “she is self-condemned.
She shall die, that the rest may be cowed.”

In the terrible hour of the dawn, when the veins are cold,
They led her forth to the wall.
“I have loved my land,” she said, “but it is not enough:
Love requires of me all.

“I will empty my heart of the bitterness, hating none.”
And sweetness filled her brave
With a vision of understanding beyond the hour
That knelled to the waiting grave.

They bound her eyes, but she stood as if she shone.
The rifles it was that shook
When the hoarse command rang out. They could not endure
That last, that defenceless look.

And the officer strode and pistolled her surely, ashamed
That men, seasoned in blood,
Should quail at a woman, only a woman,—
As a flower stamped in the mud.

And now that the deed was securely done, in the night
When none had known her fate,
They answered those that had striven for her, day by day:
“It is over, you come too late.”

And with many words and sorrowful-phrased excuse
Argued their German right
To kill, most legally; hard though the duty be,
The law must assert its might.

Only a woman! yet she had pity on them,
The victim offered slain
To the gods of fear that they worship. Leave them there,
Red hands, to clutch their gain!

She bewailed not herself, and we will bewail her not,
But with tears of pride rejoice
That an English soul was found so crystal-clear
To be triumphant voice

Of the human heart that dares adventure all
But live to itself untrue,
And beyond all laws sees love as the light in the night,
As the star it must answer to.

The hurts she healed, the thousands comforted—these
Make a fragrance of her fame.
But because she stept to her star right on through death
It is Victory speaks her name.

By Laurence Binyon

Edith Cavell was killed on October 12, 1915
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Oxford In War Time

What alters you, familiar lawn and tower,
Arched alley, and garden green to the grey wall
With crumbling crevice and the old wine-red flower,
Solitary in summer sun? for all

Is like a dream: I tread on dreams! No stir
Of footsteps, voices, laughter! Even the chime
Of many memoried bells is lonelier
In this neglected ghostliness of Time.

What stealing touch of separation numb
Absents you? Yet my heart springs up to adore
The shrining of your soul, that is become
Nearer and oh, far dearer than before.

It is as if I looked on the still face
Of a Mother, musing where she sits alone.
She is with her sons, she is not in this place;
She is gone out into far lands unknown.

Because that filled horizon occupies
Her heart with mute prayer and divining fear,
Therefore her hands so calm lie, and her eyes
See nothing; and men wonder at her here:

But far in France; on the torn Flanders plain;
By Sinai; in the Macedonian snows;
The fly-plagued sands of Tigris, heat and rain;
On wandering water, where the black squall blows

Less danger than the bright wave ambushes,
She bears it out. All the long day she bears,
And the sudden hour of instant challenges
To act, that searches all men, no man spares.

She is with her sons, leaving a virtue gone
Out of her sacred places; what she bred
Lives other life than this, that sits alone,
Though still in dream starrily visited!

For O in youth she lives, not in her age.
Her soul is with the springtime and the young;
And she absents her from the learned page,
Studious of high histories yet unsung,

More passionately prized than wisdom's book
Because her own. Her faith is in those eyes
That clear into the gape of hell can look,
Putting to proof ancient philosophies

Such as the virgin Muses would rehearse
Beside the silvery, swallow-haunted stream,
Under the grey towers. But immortal verse
Is now exchanged for its immortal theme—

Victory; proud loss; and the enduring mind;
Youth, that has passed all praises, and has won
More than renown, being that which faith divined,
Reality more radiant than the sun.

She gave, she gives, more than all anchored days
Of dedicated lore, of storied art;
And she resigns her beauty to men's gaze
To mask the riches of her bleeding heart.

By Laurence Binyon
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
The Healers

In a vision of the night I saw them,
In the battles of the night.
’Mid the roar and the reeling shadows of blood
They were moving like light,

Light of the reason, guarded
Tense within the will,
As a lantern under a tossing of boughs
Burns steady and still.

With scrutiny calm, and with fingers
Patient as swift
They bind up the hurts and the pain-writhen
Bodies uplift,

Untired and defenceless; around them
With shrieks in its breath
Bursts stark from the terrible horizon
Impersonal death;

But they take not their courage from anger
That blinds the hot being;
They take not their pity from weakness;
Tender, yet seeing;

Feeling, yet nerved to the uttermost;
Keen, like steel;
Yet the wounds of the mind they are stricken with,
Who shall heal?

They endure to have eyes of the watcher
In hell, and not swerve
For an hour from the faith that they follow,
The light that they serve.

Man true to man, to his kindness
That overflows all,
To his spirit erect in the thunder
When all his forts fall,—

This light, in the tiger-mad welter,
They serve and they save.
What song shall be worthy to sing of them—
Braver than the brave?

By Laurence Binyon
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
To the Belgians

O race that Caesar knew,
That won stern Roman praise,
What land not envies you
The laurel of these days?

You built your cities rich
Around each towered hall,—
Without, the statued niche,
Within, the pictured wall.

Your ship-thronged wharves, your marts
With gorgeous Venice vied.
Peace and her famous arts
Were yours: though tide on tide

Of Europe’s battle scourged
Black field and reddened soil,
From blood and smoke emerged
Peace and her fruitful toil.

Yet when the challenge rang,
“The War-Lord comes; give room!”
Fearless to arms you sprang
Against the odds of doom.

Like your own Damien
Who sought that leper’s isle
To die a simple man
For men with tranquil smile,

So strong in faith you dared
Defy the giant, scorn
Ignobly to be spared,
Though trampled, spoiled, and torn,

And in your faith arose
And smote, and smote again,
Till those astonished foes
Reeled from their mounds of slain,

The faith that the free soul,
Untaught by force to quail,
Through fire and dirge and dole
Prevails and shall prevail.

Still for your frontier stands
The host that knew no dread,
Your little, stubborn land’s
Nameless, immortal dead.

By Laurence Binyon
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Ode to 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 are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end they remain.

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

by Laurence Binyon
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com

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.

by Laurence Binyon

http://youtu.be/azBmlXhbRF0

[identity profile] jhaelan.livejournal.com
Although the title suggests a focus on those who have gone ahead, this poem is more to me about those who remain behind. It is about mourning and keeping fresh memories, keep the fallen alive so long as their name is spoken. It is very fitting as an end to a Rememberance Day service

Ode to the Fallen by Laurence Binyon )

It's not usual practise to pimp things on this community, but a comment on a friend's journal pointed me towards these collections: Lost Voices of the Royal Air Force and Lost Voices of the Royal Navy. Both are based on transcripts of interviews with ex-servicemen and ex-servicewomen that were taped in the Seventies

On a related note, this communities memories should now be updated to hold everything. Anyone who can identify those marked as by Anonymous or for an Unspecified conflict please email war_poetry@onibi.co.uk

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