The Ode of Remembrance

The “Ode of Remembrance”, also known as simply “The Ode”, is commonly recited at remembrance services in Australia, on Anzac Day (25 April) and on Remembrance Day (11 November).

The words of the Ode of Remembrance are as follows:

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.

The Ode of Remembrance is normally followed by the response, “Lest we forget”, given by all present.

The Ode is taken from “For the Fallen”, a poem written in 1914 (the first year of the First World War) by the English poet Laurence Binyon (1869-1943). It was originally published on 21 September 1914 in The Times (London, UK). The fourth stanza (beginning “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old”) is the part now known as the Ode of Remembrance, which became an iconic part of Remembrance commemorations in Australia and other Allied countries.

Reproduced here is the full text of “For the Fallen”, by Laurence Binyon; as published in The Ballarat Courier on 13 November 1914.

For the Fallen

(By Laurence Binyon, in the “Times.”)

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 labor 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.



References:
The Ballarat Courier (Ballarat, Vic.), 13 November 1914, p. 4
Traffic stopped on Remembrance Day”, The Murrumbidgee Irrigator (Leeton, NSW), 14 November 1950, p. 2
Keen district interest in Anzac Day”, The Lockhart Review and Oaklands Advertiser (Lockhart, NSW), 1 May 1951, p. 2
The Ode”, The Australian Army
“The Ode”: Its Origins…”, 3 Squadron – Australian Flying Corps / Royal Australian Air Force
Ode of Remembrance”, Fifth Battalion The Royal Australian Regiment Association Website
For the Fallen” (The Times, 21 September 1914), Wikisource
‘For the Fallen’: Autograph copy of the poem by Robert Laurence Binyon, C.H., made for presentation to the Museum; 1938”, Europeana 1914-1918 [see the large version]

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