The Ode


 

The “Ode of Remembrance” is an ode taken from Laurence Binyon’s poem, “For the Fallen”, which was first published in The Times of London  in September 1914. It is Usually recited by a military veteran. Normally it is only the 4th stanza that is recited.

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 labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

There is also a Naval version of this ode.

They have no grave but the cruel sea.
No flowers lay at their head.
A rusting hulk is their tombstone.
A fast on the ocean bed.

They shall not grow old as we who 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.


In Flanders fields

At the Second Battle of Ypres a young Canadian artillery officer, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, was killed on 2nd May, 1915 in the gun positions near Ypres when an exploding German artillery shell landed near him.

He was serving in the same Canadian artillery unit as a friend of his, the Canadian military doctor and artillery commander Major John McCrae. John McCrae was asked to conduct the burial service for Alexis because the chaplain had been called away somewhere else on duty that evening. It is believed that later that evening, after the burial, John began the draft for his now famous poem “In Flanders Fields”.

In Flanders fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

The Poppy Ode

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet – to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valour led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honour of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

Having read John McCrae’s poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ Moina Michael, an American Teacher, made a personal pledge to ‘keep the faith’ and in reply she penned a response entitled “We Shall Keep the Faith”.

From that day she vowed to wear a red poppy of Flanders Fields as a sign of remembrance. This was the beginning of our tradition of wearing a poppy on ANZAC Day and it became an international symbol of remembrance and welfare for war Veterans and in New Zealand former service personnel.

The image we are familiar with in New Zealand is the property of the RSA.