Poem: The Tree of ANZAC by C.J. Dennis

I sing not the glory of war, this day of all days;
I hymn dead or living no more with inadequate praise;
Nor of valor nor sorrow I sing, not of pride - let it be
I uphold a more radiant thing          I sing of a Tree!

Brown soldiers, like blown autumn leaves, are gathered again,
In sight of a city that grieves, remembering pain,
In sight of a nation denied forgetfulness yet
Proud soldiers, who know in their pride
         We can not forget.

Brown leaves that yet cleave to the Tree -- grave soldiers that march,
Yet living -- are these what you see 'neath heaven's grey arch?
Grey soldiers see you, yet alive, where veterans tread?
Yet, walking by one man in five,
         I vision the dead.

Grey phantoms that march by their side -- grey row upon row,
Proud ghosts that exultantly stride, and sing as they go
A song that is never of earth, for mortal man's breath --
Of a Tree, and a wonderful birth
         Comprehended in death.

"Brown soldiers, like blown autumn leaves, fall, drift, and are gone.
Yet over a land that still grieves, the Tree burgeons on.
The Tree, that shall never repine, from seed that we set,
Has grown to an earnest, a sign
         You can not forget.

"You cannot forget, tho' the years shall soften their grief;
Tho' coming of wintertime sears each yellowing leaf
You cannot forget; tho' the pain shall pass with the debt.
Exultantly rings our refrain:
         'You can not forget!'

"Speak not of a vain sacrifice. We went, nothing loth,
To pay but a trivial price that this might have growth
No tale of material things may set forth its worth;
Deep-rooted, for ever it clings
         In our holy earth.

"Eternally this is our dower and splendid reward
Who died in one turbulent hour by shot and by sword,
Who fell but to nurture the Tree, and rendered each soul
Contented for ever to see
         A nation made whole.

"We sing of the Tree that has grown to glorious gain
From see we have willingly sown in travail and pain
For us be not ever afraid for living, still fret;
For they who will bask in its shade
         They shall not forget."

When we that yet linger are dust blown hence from the scene,
Still, surely the God of the just shall keep the Tree green
When they that come after, grown old -- vast myriads yet
The green tree of Anzac behold,
         They shall not forget.

First published in The Herald, 25 April 1930

[Today is ANZAC Day.]

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on April 25, 2007 10:30 AM.

War Stories on TV was the previous entry in this blog.

Australian Literary Monuments #15 - Christopher Brennan is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.23-en