3rd November 1935

Sad and sombre down come billowing memories, memories grave and tender,
Outward eddying, wistful, wandering, sere and yellow as Autumn leaves;
Dreams of glory and deeds of heroism, drums, honour, and martial splendour,
Hope discarded and Death the Harvester gloating over uncounted sheaves.

See men training in English villages, swinging homeward, unwearied treading,
Bright with music and gay with mockery, nerve and muscle like springs of steel;
Soon to food and sooner to slumber as lantern flickers on stall and steading,
Day a nightmare and night oblivion, never leisure to think or feel.

Week by week in unending routine: “Shall we never be wanted yonder?”
Grows a rumour, a hope, an order: swift and sudden our dreams come true,
Then a summons battalions sundering (absence never made heart grow fonder!):
Ah, if only the first Encounter might find us solid with men we knew!

Off we march in the grim, grey morning, march with jesting and nervous laughter,
Dour-caparisoned, sourly-disciplined, glad at heart to be under way;
Clogged with myriad passionate memories, backward yearning, no thought for “after:”
Quickly silent as all too suddenly dim dawn slides into cheerless day.

So we journeyed, the cold waves lapping, like women sobbing, on Dover beaches,
Journeyed forth to the Great Adventure, buoyed by breeding and pride of Race,
Stirred by fugitive old-time instincts from all lands where our history reaches
Manhood freed from the peace-time shackles, death-encountering, face to face.

Pass the months and again we muster, fire-tried, weary and scourged with battle,
Grimmer, thinner, but still unconquerable, probing depths never dreamt before,
Children-loving, and kindly-courteous, helping women with farm and cattle,
Loving beasts and by them belovèd; never World saw such men at War!

Now the mantle of chill November dulls the notes of the bugles calling:
“Halt! Reveillè! Awaken! Waken!” Call, ah! call, but no tomb-stone parts:
Never a Cross in the lovely graveyards bright with lilac and rose-leaves falling
Stirs to answer the call of England, echoed dumbly in riven hearts.

Let them lie in their peaceful slumber, dying splendidly, lapped in glory!
We to-day wear a flower in memory, scarlet wrought as the blood they shed;
We in multitudes throng the Cenotaph; tell our children the deathless story;
Proud to have known them; proud to have marched with them, Brothers in arms, our illustrious Dead!