Ode of Remembrance and other poems

 

Reading a poem at a commemorative service can help the audience to understand the military service experience. You can recite the Ode and other poetry on Anzac Day, Remembrance Day and other important days. We often use well-known wartime poetry. Sometimes students read original works at a school ceremony. We do this to recognise and remember the service and sacrifice of our veterans and serving personnel.

Ode of Remembrance

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.

Response:

We will remember them
Lest we forget

When the Ode is recited at a commemorative service, visitors should stand, remove headwear and refrain from talking.

You can download the Ode of Remembrance as part of our Anzac Day Kitbag.

Origins of the Ode

The Ode of Remembrance has been recited to commemorate wartime service and sacrifice since 1921.

Reading a poem at a commemorative service can help the audience to understand the wartime experience of service men and women. Well-known wartime poetry is often used during commemorative services.

The Ode is the 4th stanza of the poem For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon. The poem was first published in British newspaper The Times on 21 September 1914. The poem later appeared in many anthologies of war verse.

In 1919, Binyon’s poem was selected to accompany the unveiling of the London Cenotaph and was adopted as a memorial tradition by many Commonwealth nations. The poem was read at the laying of the Inauguration Stone at the Australian War Memorial in 1929.

Variations of the Ode

Other versions of the Ode exist, such as those used at Last Post ceremonies hosted by the Australian War Memorial and RSL branches. This gives some flexibility to your service.

About the poet

Laurence Binyon was an English academic and poet. He worked as a medical orderly with the Red Cross on the Western Front during World War I. By the time Binyon's poem was published in The Times, the British Expeditionary Force had already experienced devastating losses on the Western Front.

Full poems

For the Fallen

By Laurence Binyon, 1914

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for 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 into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation,
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the 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.

In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae, 1914

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

We Shall Keep the Faith

by Moina Michael, 1918

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

The Farmer Remembers the Somme

by Vance Palmer, 1920

Will they never fade or pass!
The mud, and the misty figures endlessly coming
In file through the foul morass,
And the grey flood-water ripping the reeds and grass,
And the steel wings drumming.

The hills are bright in the sun:
There's nothing changed or marred in the well-known places;
When work for the day is done
There's talk, and quiet laughter, and gleams of fun
On the old folks' faces.

I have returned to these:
The farm, and the kindly Bush, and the young calves lowing;
But all that my mind sees
Is a quaking bog in a mist - stark, snapped trees,
And the dark Somme flowing.


Last updated: 15 April 2021

Cite this page

DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) (2021), Ode of Remembrance and other poems, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 4 December 2021, https://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/commemoration/event-planning/ode-of-remembrance
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