On Sunday, November 11, the Shrine of Remembrance to Victoria's fallen soldiers was dedicated in Melbourne.
Listening (said the old, grey Digger) . . . With my finger on the trigger I was listening in the trenches on a dark night long ago, And a lull came in the fighting, Save a sudden gun-flash lighting Some black verge. And I fell thinking of lost mates I used to know. Listening, waiting, stern watch keeping, I heard little whispers creeping In from where, 'mid fair fields tortured, No-man's land loomed out before. And well I knew good mates were lying There, grim-faced and death-defying, In that filth and noisome litter and the horror that was war. List'ning so, a mood came o'er me; And 'twas like a vision bore me To a deeper, lonelier darkness where the souls of dead men roam; Where they wander, strife unheading; And I heard a wistful pleading Down the lanes where lost men journey: "Come ye home! Ah, come ye home!" "Ye who fail, yet triumph failing" Ye who fall, yet falling soar Into realms where, brother hailing Brother, bids farewell to war; Ye for whom this red hell ended, With the last great, shuddering breath. In the mute, uncomprehended, Dreamful dignity of death; Back to your own land's sweet breast Come ye home, lads -- home to rest." Listening in my old bush shanty - (Said grey Digger) living's scanty These dark days for won-out soldiers and I'd not the luck of some -- But from out the ether coming I could hear a vast crowd's humming Hear the singing, then -- the Silence. And I knew the Hour had come. Listening, silent as I waited, And the picture recreated, I could see the kneeling thousands by the Shrine's approaches there. Then, above those heads low-bending, Like an orison ascending, Saw a multitude's great yearning rise into the quivering air. Listening so, again the seeming Of a vision came; and dreaming There, I saw from out high Heaven spread above the great Shrine's dome, From the wide skies overarching I beheld battalions marching -- Mates of mine! My comrades, singing: Coming home! Coming home! "We who bore the cost of glory, We who paid the price of peace, Now that, from this earth, war's story Shall, please God, for ever cease, To this Shrine that you have lifted For a symbol and a sign Of men's hearts, come we who drifted Thro' long years, oh, mates of mine! To earth, my brothers' grieving blest Now come we home, lads -- home to rest."
|Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2003-06|