The origin of the words '....we will remember them', a poem by Laurence BINYON, 1914
To the memory of those from all nations who served their Sovereign and Country
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up unto immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known,
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
A poem from Nicholas Herbert TODD, son of the then Rector of Occold, whilst in training for the trenches of WW1, to his young daughter.
Written at Hazely Down Camp, Winchester, Easter Eve - 1916.
Ed note: We can find no evidence that he married or had a daughter Meg.
Now I'm a simple Tommy
I thought you'd like a letter from me,
Living a silent celibate
With 20 others in a hut.
My bed of wooden boards and trestles
And blankets thick with which one wrestles,
While the cold night wind through the door
Keeps time to rats that scour the floor.
A Sergeant stern with language rude
Who tell me that my drilling's crude,
And boots two inches thick, which they
make me to clean three times a day.
But even hear where bugles ring
The Southern lark goes up to sing;
And nobly stretch the long white downs
O'er looking Hampshire's famous towns,
Where years ago through woods of fir
King Alfred rode to Winchester;
And hear is haunted, wholly ground
Where Arthur held his Table Round,
And Ethelbert and Athelstane
Drove back the foray of the Dane.
And so farewell - if when May comes,
And snow-white gleam the garden plums,
You run across the yard to school
Hair-braided, with your reticule,
Then think of me, my little maid,
Forming for nine o' clock parade,
And making an egregious hash
Of drill and growing a moustache !
Rupert Brooke (1887 - 1915)
If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
O guns, fall silent till the dead men hear
Above their heads the legions pressing on:
(These fought their fight in time of bitter fear,
And died not knowing how the day had gone.)
O flashing muzzles, pause, and let them see
The coming dawn that streaks the sky afar;
Then let your mighty chorus witness be
To them, and Caesar, that we still make war.
Tell them, O guns, that we have heard their call,
That we have sworn, and will not turn aside,
That we will onward till we win or fall,
That we will keep the faith for which they died.
Bid them be patient, and some day, anon,
They shall feel earth enwrapt in silence deep;
Shall greet, in wonderment, the quiet dawn,
And in content may turn them to their sleep.