It was ANZAC Day on Friday so this anonymous poem is appropriate to remember all those buried, not just at Gallipoli, but anywhere far from home. It’s called The Graves at Gallipoli. I wonder when it was written. There’s an echo of Wilfred Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est but that Latin tag would have been well-known so it may not necessarily be a reference to Owen. This poet, too, seems to use the reference seriously rather than ironically as Owen does.
The herdman wandering by the lonely rills
Marks where they lie on the scarred mountain’s flanks,
Remembering that wild morning when the hills
Shook to the roar of guns and those wild ranks
Surged upward from the sea.
None tends them. Flowers will come again in spring,
And the torn hills and those poor mounds be green.
Some bird that sings in English woods may sing
To English lads beneath – the wind will keep
Its ancient lullaby.
Some flower that blooms beside the Southern foam
May blossom where our dead Australians lie,
And comfort them with whispers of their home;
and they will dream, beneath the alien sky,
Of the Pacific sea.
‘Thrice happy they who fell beneath the walls,
Under their father’s eyes’, the Trojan said,
‘Not we who die in exile where who falls
Must lie in foreign earth.’ Alas! our dead
Lie buried far away.
Yet where the brave man lies who fell in fight
For his dear country, there his country is.
And we will mourn them proudly as of right –
For meaner deaths be weeping and loud cries:
They died pro patria!
Oh, sweet and seemly so to die, indeed,
In the high flush of youth and strength and pride.
These are our martyrs, and their blood the seed
Of nobler futures. ‘Twas for us they died.
Keep we their memory green.
This be their epitaph. ‘Traveller, south or west,
Go, say at home we heard the trumpet call,
And answered. Now beside the sea we rest.
Our end was happy if out country thrives:
Much was demanded. Lo! our store was small –
That which we had we gave – it was our lives.’