Pass Grey Digger. All is Well by C. J. Dennis

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Anzac . . . War-riven morn on Sari Bair.
   Still forms that sprawl about the dawn-lit beach.
Young forms, prone in self-immolation there.
   Deaf to the passing shells' malignant screech.
Youths entering manhood even as they fell.
Pass, soldier.  Pass, young soldier.  All is well.
And now the horror of Gallipoli.
And all war's aftermath of agony.
      A dying boy whose eyes yearn from the West.
      Peace, stricken mothers. Surely God knows best.

Anzac . . . The fields of France. Men foul with mud.
   Counting as trivial all that went before:
Dulled to the reek of death, and fresh-let blood.
   And every filthy attribute of war.
Grim, listless men, waiting release from hell.
Pass, comrade. Lucky comrade!  All is well.
And now, the waiting, and the day-long dread.
Wide eyes that scan the growing lists of dead
      Men who have passed war's fiercest, foulest test
      Courage, brave comrade.  All is for the best.

Anzac . . . The Armistice, the homing ships.
   The remnant of an army drifting by.
Crowds in the streets with cheers upon their lips;
   And, here and there, some woman's wistful eye.
Sobs 'mid the cheering: grief for those who fell.
Pass, veteran.  Pass, young veteran.  All is well.
And now rejoicing 'neath the old home, roof;
The hale, the maimed, and those who stand aloof;
      Kin to the lost who found afar deep rest.
      Peace, sorrowing kinsfolk: for what is, is best.

Anzac . . . Grey figures grouped upon a lawn --
   Grey Diggers mastering about a Shrine.
Meeting again in this dim Autumn dawn
   To count the missing from their dwindling line:
To mark the tally of the passing-bell.
Pass, Digger.  Pass, grey Digger.  All is well.
Unconquerable then; unconquered still.
They see each road go dipping down the hill.
      Long road or short, that winds into the West.
      Patience, grey Digger. Here at last is rest.

First published in The Herald, 25 April 1934

Author reference sites: C.J. Dennis, Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on April 25, 2012 8:54 AM.

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