Seconds of silence, heart-beats of sorrow,
Seconds that tell of our soldiers asleep;
Sleeping till God’s own reveille to-morrow
Calls their brave souls from the dust and the deep.
Soldiers, civilians, and mothers who bore them,
Keep the Day sacred no rebel shall wrack,
When the maimed monsters, the white flag before them,
Bowed to the braves who had beaten them back.
Peace laurels here to their mem’ry we lay
On Armistice Day, their Armistice Day!
Red poppies grow near the crosses above them;
Red poppies peep where they lie all unknown;
Little French lassies who knew but to love them
Whisper a pray’r in that hell-harried zone.
Softly the Angelus drifts o’er their dreaming,
Lightly the peasant folk tread where they trod,
Safe till the great Resurrectional beaming,
Shrouded by Mother Earth, guarded by God.
Heroes of Homeland, crumbling to clay,
Think you of these on your Armistice Day!
Lest you forget what their sacrifice saved you,
Turn to their widows and orphans who pine;
Here, if the Hun and his horde had enslaved you,
Long would you rot in the mire and the mine.
Walk you barefooted, or walk you well-booted,
Pause you and pray when the poppies are red;
Stand to attention and stand you saluted,
Honour the wounded, the weak and the dead.
Remember your saviours who fell in the fray,
On Armistice Day —
Our Armistice Day!
Edwin Greenslade Murphy, Dryblower’s Verses, Perth, W.A.: E. G. Murphy, 1926, page 35
Previously published (with some differences) in:
The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 13 November 1921, p. 1
Angelus = a series of prayers recited in the morning, at noon, and in the evening in the Roman Catholic Church (from the first line of the prayer commemorating the angel Gabriel’s annunciation to the Virgin Mary, “Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae”, meaning “the angel of the Lord declared unto Mary”); “Angelus” also refers to the “Angelus bell”, the ringing of a bell to let people know that it is time for those prayers
wrack = an alternative spelling of “rack”; also: wreck, wreckage, especially a wrecked ship; something destroyed, or a remnant thereof (such as a shipwreck, or a piece of wreckage); collapse, destruction, or ruin (as in the phrase “wrack and ruin”); a group of wind-blown clouds (a cloud rack, or cloud-wrack); seaweed or other marine vegetation which is floating on the sea or which has been washed ashore from the sea (such as Fucus serratus, also known as “toothed wrack” or “serrated wrack”)