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Anzac by C.J. Dennis

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Anzac! And war's grim storm . . .
   The scream of a pass'ng shell
Torn earth, and - a quiet form . . .
   "Pass, comrades. All is well."

Nay, but his spirit lives; be very sure.
   Year follows year, and earthly things depart;
But what he dying, gave us shall endure
   Now and for ever in the nation's heart.
Now and for ever; tho' the flesh be gone,
Still shall that Spirit bid us, "Carry on!"

Anzac! The mounds increase;
   Marking where soldiers fell . . . .
Earth's healing scars; and peace.
   "Sleep, comrades. All is well."

And be full certain that they do but sleep,
   Who, falling, yet were well content to find
Fit sanctuary in the hearts that keep
   That spirit and that memory enshrined.
High on Gallipoli, lights that once shone,
Again flame o'er the ocean: "Carry on!"

Anzac! The tramp of marching feet . . . .
   The toll of a passing-bell.
Bowed heads along a city street . . . .
   "Pass, soldier. All is well."

Pass, soldier. When your dwindling ranks grow small;
   When, one by one, old comrades you shall greet;
When the last, lonely veteran's footfall
   Goes echoing adown this city street,
Still may that Spirit, tho' all else be gone,
Cry to our sons: "Australia! Carry on!"

First published in The Herald, 25 April 1927

Author reference sites: C.J. DennisAustlitAustralian Dictionary of BiographyAustralian Poetry Library

See also.

A Song of Anzac by C.J. Dennis

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"When I'm sittin' in me dug-out with me rifle on me knees,
   An' a yowlin', 'owlin' chorus comes a-floatin' up the breeze -
Just a bit o' 'Bonnie Mary'
Or 'Long Way to Tipperaray' --
Then I know I'm in Australia took an' planted overseas . . ."

So we sang in days remembered - fateful days of pain and war --
When the young lad went forth singing, ship-bound for an unknown shore.
They were singing, ever singing, careless lads in careworn days
Sturdy youths, but yet unblooded to red war's unholy ways.
From a land untouched by slaughter
Fared they forth across the water:
Some to Destiny's grim gateway where the scarlet poppy sways.

"They were singin' on the troopship, they were singin' in the train;
When they left their land behind them they were shoutin' a refrain.
An' I'll bet they have a chorus
Gay an' glad in greetin' for us
When their bit of scrappin's over an' they sail back home again ..."

So we sang to dull the aching that was looming even then
When the boys went out to battle, to come back stern fighting men.
So we strove to keep hope buoyant while they lived untouched by war,
But they came back, not with singing, when those anxious days were o'er
Disillusioned and war-weary,
And, for all their smiles were cheery,
Some came bitter, some came broken, some, they came back nevermore.

And today again they're marching, rugged veterans, grey and grave,
These, who joined the carefree chorus, shouting many an olden stave
To the tramping cohorts' motion;
To the rolling of the ocean;
In their singing seeking kinship that high youth must ever crave.
Aye, today again they're marching with old faith and fellowship;
Grave and grey, with memory marching, but no song lifts to the lip.
Year by year the Boys are gathered; year by year the count grows fewer;
But the flame, new-lit on Anzac, goes before them burning pure;
And the Song of Anzac ringing
High above them, sounding, swinging,
Tells that memory of Anzac shall endure while these endure.

They are marching with the old days, with the singing in their hearts,
With the memory of mateship that for not one hour departs:
Silent men, with sober faces,
Marking now the vacant places
Yearly growing, yearly showing where life ends and hope re-starts.
That triumphant Song of Anzac that the living Anzac hears -
Hears imperfectly and dimly,
As he tramps on gravely, grimly -
Haunts the old familiar roadway he has trodden thro' the years.
Done are these with youth's vain dreaming who have yet to pay earth's price,
These who harked to young mates singing,
These who saw their young souls winging,
Ever singing, blithely singing, to the gates of Paradise.

First published in The Herald, 24 April 1937

Hello Digger! by C.J. Dennis

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Mr. Hugh J. Ward's novel War Memorial appeal plan, whereby every telephone subscriber will be asked to contribute, was enthusiastically launched at the Legacy Club's luncheon yesterday. Each member of the club has been allotted ten pages of the telephone directory, and undertakes to appeal to all the subscribers whose names appear in his section.

Hello!  Do you remember, friend of mine,
   The promise we made long years ago?
The sky was clouded then, and suns that shine
   On peaceful days, we hardly hoped to know
Ever again.  For your dear friends and mine,
Had marched for victory -- or anodyne.

The Anzacs!  It was scarcely then a word
   Familiar to our ears.  But do you hear
His voice -- his precious voice come back to you
   Who rests today beside a coastline drear.
Saying, "I did my little for a friend
And -- must we be forgotten in the end."

Hello! When you pick up the 'phone today
   And hear -- not as a favor but a right,
That those who won for us the glorious day
   Shall not be shrouded in oblivious night:
Is it a living voice that answers you,
Or some lost friend that long ago you know? 

The Anzacs!  Every man who has a hear
   Keeps there enshrined, an intimate, so dear.
The memory of one who played his part
   That we, in peaceful days, might linger here --
Living -- And, selfishly, shall it be said
We took the payment -- and -- forgot our dead?

Hello!  You in your office snugly squat,
   Pick up the 'phone: all safe in peaceful days.
And suddenly, a voice long, long forgot
   Comes in an undertone, and, pleading says:
"Do you forget us, digger?  Is the cost
So much ... so much, against all we lost?"

The Anzacs!  They are calling you today.
   A long-stilled voice mayhap, comes to your ear --
A voice familiar, that perchance might say
   "Remember those whom once you held so dear."
And, listening, don't forget, the man who seeks
Remembrance ... Brother!  'Tis an Anzac speaks!

First published in The Herald, 12 April 1928

The Immortals by Marjorie Quinn

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Steep is the path and dark the way,
   Yet great deeds, these our legacy,
To us are given, that they may  
   Make sweet long years that are to be.
Dark sorrow in her gloomy pall
   (In those grim days of yesteryear),  
Enwrapt us, stole from one and all
   The speeding words of hope and cheer.
Yet one thing could she not destroy!  
   The glory that remains our fame;
She stole our hope, she stole our joy --
   She gave us an immortal name.
The Anzacs! Evermore our pride  
   Though friends, though fortune all depart,
And life itself-their names abide,
   Enshrined within a nations heart.

First published
in The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 April 1933

Author reference site: Austlit

See also

Anzac Men by Emily Bulcock

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We heard, far off, the great world's throbbing heart
But dwelt remote apart,
But you have made us one,
With all beneath the sun.
Linked us to strange, far lands,
By clasp of boyish hands,
Swept us into the universal tide
Of living, deep and wide.

So as a whole world calls a pause to pray,
In silence, this great day,
We, 'neath those April skies
Would honour you, the knights of sacrifice.
Less poignant is the grief; the years have brought
So many dewy morns, with healing fraught.
The wounded earth renews her loveliness,
So our hearts bleed no more, yet none the less
Do we, remembering
Still nurse our love, and love's own offerings bring.

The white flowers heaped upon the stone and cross,
Speak of the faith that triumphs over loss.
Heaven opens wide her gates this gallant day,
The unseen lives; the veils are torn away,
We feel a comfort strangely, subtly shed,
And know you very near, Beloved Dead.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 April 1930

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

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

See also.

A Digger to His Son (Anzac 1938) by C. J. Dennis

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Yes, son; we march again in the old formation,   
   We queer old buffers, some grown grey and bent.
So strangely prone to solemn veneration,
   So wed to sentiment
For a past cause, and an old creed, now half hidden,
   And lost mates, long, long ago gone West,
And olden memories that rise, unbidden   
   And will not rest.

We march for memory, old dreams, untarnished   
   By time's march, or the tale of a changing earth ---     
A bitter tale, with many a strange herb garnished
   Since nationhood found birth.
For the years go, and times change, and the fashions   
   In thoughts of men and dreams they once held dear;
And other dawns make other hopes and passions   
   And a new-found fear.

And you, my son. You watch the old men marching,     
   Less briskly now to the blare of a martial band,
Thro' peaceful streets with a peaceful sky o'er-arching,
   And but half understand
The vague urge that comes, part hope, part warning,
   With a clamorous kinship not to be denied,   
That wakes in you upon this Anzac morning
   Vicarious pride.

I have watched you, son, as you grew and I have pondered ---   
   Flesh of my flesh, waxing in mind and thew ---
Too foolishly, mayhap, my hope has wandered
   To a happier day for you,
When man's mind in a new world, forsaking
   The crazy quest that Might may ne'er attain,
Seeks worthier gifts that earth holds for the taking.
   Have I hoped in vain?

And I have dreamed, as a foolish man falls dreaming ---     
   As a man must dream who knows the filth of war ---       
That all those horrors, born of envious scheming,     
   Might foul the earth no more.   
Oh, the brave young and the bright hope in their faces!   
   I would not have these know what I have known,           
Of harvests sprung from seeds of dread disgraces               
   Past men have sown.     

So had we dreamed who marched, in the days long vanished,     
   To wage a war that was to make an end   
To all earth's wars, that enmity be banished   
   And Man be all men's friend.   
Then peace came; but a strange peace, fearing, failing,   
   A savage peace, as ruthless as the gun,   
Till all they paid who fell seemed unavailing   
   For you, my son.     

I have watched you grow, hoping that life might shield you,   
   Seen your strength bloom, and prayed, as still I pray,   
That, even yet, some turn of fate might yield you   
   Peace unto your last day.     
But doubt grows, and the drums call. He who hearkens,   
   Out of a wisdom grimly gained of yore,   
Marks portents all too plain, as broad skies darken     
   With clouds of war.   

Yes, son; we march again; but our strength is going.   
   For the strongest tree grows old and soon must fall;   
But the brave young sapling, ever waxing, growing,   
   Preserves the forest wall.   
And a new hope, and a new pride, and a glory   
   Comes to uplift them who must soon be gone,   
Knowing that, while stout sons take up the story,       
   Anzac lives on.    

First published in The Herald,
and
The Courier-Mail, 25 April 1938;
and later in
Random Verse, edited by Margaret Herron, 1952.

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

See also.

Anzac Eve by C. J. Dennis

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   For some, it was the last sun that should set,
      For many, their last glimpse of fecund day --
A splendid sun, dipping, reluctant yet,
      Into blue water west of Mudros Bay;
And they -- new burnished coin to squander free
   In "that red purchase" on Gallipoli.

   They guessed not; or, half guessing, did not reck
      That for the doomed no other sun should rise
   But to reveal the still forms that would fleck
      The Anzac Beach; staring with lifeless eyes
   Where carrier pigeons, white against the blue,
   Bore the dread tale for other skies they knew.

   They sang, they laughed; and laughing cursed again
      The long monotony of Mudros Bay.
Like hounds released, the eager shouting men
   Crowded the decks and whiled the time away
At cards; half fearing what they most desired
   Might be denied them yet; and no shot fired.

   And, as that sun set in the azure vast,
      Who counted one day more or one day less?
   How many deemed it was for them the last
      To light a world of blood and bitterness?
   Yet bitterness for many a heart lay there
   When next the sun blazed over Sari Bair.

First published in The Herald, 24 April 1930

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

See also.

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