Poem: Honor of Anzac by C. J. Dennis

On Anzac Day when first the sun
   Looked on the stricken shore below,
Upon a sacrifice begun
   That was to drag thro' years of woe,
There youth, unbloodied and untried,
   Strove for a dear land leagues away,
And, to uphold her honor, died
         On Anzac Day.

They went, not meanly, since they must,
   But blithely to the sacrifice,
Leaving with us a holy trust,
   They went to pay the utmost price:
The price of honor that day won
   By many a lad, so lately gay,
Whose sightless eyes looked to that sun
         Of Anzac Day.

Theirs the full right to ask of life
   Her countless treasures for their own,
Not bloody agony and strife
   That folly of old worlds had sown.
Yet for their honor, and for ours,
   They saw no choice but to obey,
And found, what hells of pain-filled hours
         On Anzac Day?

For honor.  Is it but a name
   Now that their memory grows dim
In these drab days of peaceful shame
   When we wage battles no less grim
Because no dead bestrow the field
   And clamorous guns are years away?
Yet have we, too, no price to yield
         For Anzac Day?

For honor!  We were proud indeed,
   Vicarious glory swelled each breast
To know our sons had proved the breed,
   To know our seed had stood the test,
To know our kin had played the game
   As all true men would have them play.
Our honor 'twas they raised to fame
         On Anzac Day.

And shall those men who now conspire
   With foes more dread than Turk or Hun
To drag that honor in the mire
   Be counted kith to such a son?
While hucksters in the market place
   Would sell it for a hireling's pay,
Are we to bear this last disgrace
         On Anzac Day?

Surely this Honor still means much -
   Enough to men high in the State
To snatch it from the spoiler's clutch
   And keep that trust inviolate.
Surely enough remain to hedge
   Above that banner passed our way.
And save unsullied still the pledge
         Of Anzac Day.

First published in The Herald, 25 April 1931
[Today is ANZAC Day.]

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on April 25, 2010 8:18 AM.

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