Ode, Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance


So long as memory, valour, and faith endure,
   Let these stones witness, through the years to come,
How once there was a people fenced secure
   Behind great waters girdling a far home.

Their own and their land's youth ran side by side
   Heedless and headlong as their unyoked seas
Lavish o'er all, and set in stubborn pride
   Of judgment, nurtured by accepted peace.

Thus, suddenly, war took them-seas and skies
   Joined with the earth for slaughter. In a breath
They, scoffing at all talk of sacrifice,
   Gave themselves without idle words to death.

Thronging as cities throng to watch a game
   Or their own herds move southward with the year,
Secretly, swiftly, from their ports they came,
So that before half earth had heard their name
   Half earth had learned to speak of them with fear;

Because of certain men who strove to reach,
   Through the red surf, the crest no man might hold,
And gave their name for ever to a beach
   Which shall outlive Troy's tale when Time is old;

Because of horsemen, gathered apart and hid-
   Merciless riders whom Megiddo sent forth
When the outflanking hour struck, and bid
   Them close and bar the drove-roads to the north;

And those who, when men feared the last March flood
   Of Western war had risen beyond recall,
Stormed through the night from Amiens and made good,
   At their glad cost, the breach that perilled all.

Then they returned to their desired land
   The kindly cities and plains where they were bred
Having revealed their nation in earth's sight
   So long as sacrifice and honour stand,
And their own sun at the hushed hour shall light 
   The shrine of these, their dead.

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