[Editor: This poem, by Calluna, was published in The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld.), 10 November 1934.]
Remembrance Day 1934.
Weary were they with the miles of their marching
By forest and flood, in desert and snow,
With Death at their elbows, or freezing or parching,
And who should go with him none surely could know.
Then came there a day when the rending and crashing,
The cracking and whining of bullet and shell,
Ceased in a trice their dread churning and lashing,
And strange seemed the land in the silence that fell.
This was the sign that the bondage was ended,
And freedom they greeted with cheers of delight,
Uprising from lairs in the earth, far extended,
Homeward they turned with great hopes glowing bright.
Though joy then was theirs, they forgot not those others
So silently lying, asleep in their youth,
The comrades true-hearted, who were as their brothers,
Awaiting the dawn of the great Day of Truth.
From far they returned to the land of their longing,
Loud welcomed with throbbing of music and drum;
The maimed and the blind, they came silent, no thronging —
No hero inspires who is wounded and dumb.
Year by year, one by one, they pass out uncomplaining,
Their bodies to rest, but their spirits to seek
The host on the dark road to Menin, maintaining
Their vigil unceasing at midnight hour bleak.
How hollow is vict’ry, how faint is its glory,
The years have revealed and we seek for a sign;
What lesson is hid in the sea-battle story,
The tale of the clouds, or the trench, or the mine?
The years of duress were a furnace of trial,
Lest from us had fled the strong spirit of old,
And blazoned across the wide world is denial,
The soul of the race is still hardy and bold.
This day we have marked for brief space to remember
Not anger and hate, nor yet sorrow and tears,
Of fire sacrificial we honour the ember,
Aglow in the heart of the ashes of years.
The hour is at hand. Let us now be upstanding:
The air shall be full as of beating of wings
From snow and from desert, from sea and from landing —
Be silent! An anthem celestial rings.
The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld.), 10 November 1934, p. 6
Also published in:
The Central Queensland Herald (Rockhampton, Qld.), 15 November 1934, p. 44
An earlier version of this poem, entitled “Remembrance Day, 1932”, was published in 1932, essentially consisting of the two last stanzas of the 1934 poem.
See: 1) Remembrance Day, 1932”, The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld.), 11 November 1932, p. 8
2) “Remembrance Day, 1932”, The Central Queensland Herald (Rockhampton, Qld.), 17 November 1932, p. 28
Day of Truth = the Day of Judgment, when someone dies and is judged by God
dumb = mute, unable to speak; unwilling to speak; silent, not speaking (can also refer to: a lack of intelligence; someone who lacks intelligence, or who is regarded as stupid; something which is stupid, foolish, or pointless)
Menin = a city in the West Flanders province of Belgium, located in the north-west of the country, on the Belgian-French border; a municipality in the West Flanders province of Belgium, which incorporates the city of Menin; the Menin Gate (the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, opened in 1927), a war memorial in Ypres, Belgium (even though it is situated in Ypres, it is called the Menin Gate as it is situated at the start of the road to Menin), which was built in honour of the British and Commonwealth soldiers who died in the Ypres Salient during the First World War (1914-1918), but whose graves are unknown
See: 1) “Menen”, Wikipedia
2) “Menin Gate”, Wikipedia
3) “Battle of the Menin Road Ridge”, Wikipedia
4) “Battles of the Ypres Salient”, The Great War 1914-1918
5) “History of the Menin Gate, Ieper (Ypres)”, The Great War 1914-1918
vict’ry = (vernacular) victory