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Remembrance Poems and Readings

Edited by
David Roberts

More information about this collection of poems and readings for Remembrance Day and Peace Events

 


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THE WAR POETRY WEBSITE

POEMS FOR REMEMBRANCE DAY
AND PEACE EVENTS

Remembrance poems in a traditional vein (page one)


Remembrance – A hymn [or poem] for Remembrance Sunday


Words – Charles Henrywood


May be sung to the tune of Finlandia by Jean Sibelius



Grant peace, O Lord, across our strife-torn world,

Where war divides and greed and dogma drive.

Help us to learn the lessons from the past,

That all are human and all pay the price.

All life is dear and should be treated so;

Joined, not divided, is the way to go.


Protect, dear Lord, all who, on our behalf,

Now take the steps that place them in harm's way.

May they find courage for each task they face

By knowing they are in our thoughts always.

Then, duty done and missions at an end,

Return them safe to family and friends.


Grant rest, O Lord, to those no longer with us;

Who died protecting us and this their land.

Bring healing, Lord, to those who, through their service,

Bear conflict’s scars on body or in mind.

With those who mourn support and comfort share.

Give strength to those who for hurt loved-ones care.


And some there be who no memorial have;

Who perished are as though they’d never been.

For our tomorrows their today they gave,

And simply asked that in our hearts they'd live.

We heed their call and pledge ourselves again,

At dusk and dawn - we will remember them!


Voice:

At the going down of the sun and in the morning


We will remember them.


ALL SAY

We will remember them


Charles Henrywood





Some background notes on the hymn, Remembrance, by the author, Charles Henrywood.


Until very recently, the War Memorials in Neath, South Wales, officially commemorated only those who died in the two World Wars. Then, in 2008 a group of us who attended the Remembrance parades at the Memorial Gates each year decided it was time those members of our Armed Forces who had given their lives since 1945 should also have a memorial. This view was reinforced when we learned that, other than 1963, not a year had passed without at least on of our Servicemen being killed in the line of duty —peacekeeping comes at a price!


This required money and my role was to organise a fund-raising concert performed by our local Silver Band and six Male Choirs. Although a concert, each of the choirs made it clear they also saw it as an act of remembrance and it was agreed the evening should end with a hymn to be sung by massed choirs and audience.


That raised the question as to which hymn. I couldn't help thinking about that phrase from Ecclesiasticus


"And some there be, which have no memorial; who are perished, as though they 

had never been".


Then lines from our Remembrance parades joined in. The first, from Lawrence Binyon's poem "For the Fallen" (1914)


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.


The second from “The Kohima Epitaph", commemorating those Allied troops who 

fell in the Burma Campaign.


"When you go home tell them of us and say -

For your tomorrow we gave our today"


From the above you'll see that the final verse of the hymn had just about written itself!


The rest came remarkably quickly. I've always believed that Remembrance should not be limited to the dead—important though that is. Neither should it be a vehicle for glorifying war. If we loved one another as commanded war would be just history. We don't but that shouldn't stop us asking for help to do so.


At the time, there were young men and women from our town serving in Afghanistan who deserved better than to be forgotten—hence the second verse.


The third verse is a statement of my strong belief that the living victims of conflict need and deserve our support and should not be forgotten.


I used "Finlandia" as the musical framework as it is one of the most moving pieces I know.


The choirs accepted the piece and it was used as the final item in the “Six Choirs and a Silver Band” concert on 28th March 2009.


The new memorial was dedicated on 13th June 2009


That, In a nutshell, was the genesis of "Remembrance".


The copyright for this work remains with me, However, I have decided that, if used in an act of Remembrance or in aid of Service charities, copyright is waived.

Charles Henrywood.


Let us know. If you choose to use Charles Henrywood's words at a Remembrance Service I know he would be pleased to hear of it. If you write a message to him and email it to me I will forward it to him. - David Roberts, Website Editor. See Contact page.



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"This next poem was written as a response to those who protest at soldiers funerals."


Taking a Stand

For both the injured and the lost

I ask you to keep count with me

Of all the wars and what they cost

I ask you to be silent with me

Quietly grateful for our lot

As I expect you're as thankful as me

For the health and life we've got

I ask that you wish them well with me

All those still risking their all

And I ask that you remember with me

The names of those that fall

I expect that you are proud like me

Of this great nation of ours too

So enjoying all its freedoms like me

Support those upholding them for you

I hope that you are hopeful like me

That we'll soon bring an end to wars

So you'll have to stand no more with me

And mourning families no different from yours

'Til then be thankful you can stand with me

Thinking of those who now cannot

For standing here today with me

At least we show they're not forgot


John Bailey

         May 2011



We Who Remain


Anthony Devanny introduces his poem -  "I am currently still a serving soldier within 3 YORKS, having just returned from a third tour of Afghanistan which saw us lose 10 Brothers. I sat at home this morning waiting to go remember and started to write."


WO2 Anthony Devanny

3 YORKS

Virtutis Fortuna Comes

We Who Remain


We are indeed the lucky and unlucky ones,

As we are the ones who have lived to tell the tales of those we once knew


We are the ones who carry those scars of things seen, done and lost

We are the ones who must never let those who are not here be forgotten by the new


We are the ones who will never need to be reminded that "We will Remember Them"

As We are the ones who will always remember those we forever call friend.


Anthony Devanny




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Eternal Soldier 


 I am the Eternal Soldier

 Though my body breaks

 My soul goes on

 Through the jungles and the deserts

 Across the mountains and the seas

 Whither I am called I go

 Steadfast, reliable

 Though my mouth moans

 And my body aches

 I push on

 Until the objective is done

 The opposers disperse

 Or I am called elsewhere

 As one battle ends

 Another begins

 Always with myself

 The battle is the greatest

 While you break, I bend

 When you fall, I walk on

 Always expected to be courageous

 Always expected to be brave

 Always the first to charge

 While others stand behind me

 Like fearful children

 Hoping I will kill the big bad wolf

 I am the eternal soldier

 Our heart beats as one

 Though my body is many

 Brothers are we in blood and bone

 While around us separation

 Takes hold of the individual

 Hold my hand

 And I will guide you through

 For I am Michael, soldier of Angels

 My heart is true

 To the cause of my country

 That others may not suffer

 The horrors of the past

 Walk with me if you dare

 For mine is not a path lightly taken

 Brave heart, brave feet

 Brave voice, brave action

 These are our creed

 And our battle cry

 

 Ann-Marie Spittle
 2006

 


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A poem for Armistice Day


Harry Riley writes novels, short stories and poetry. He introduces his poem.


"Standing for the two minutes silence in a local supermarket on Armistice day, my mind conjured up the scene of rows and rows of beautifully kept white head stones and crosses, designating war dead, in the cemeteries across Europe.

If those dead could speak with one voice and send us a message, I wondered what they might say?

Here is my suggestion of what that message could be, only they could tell us:"  HR. 2012.


A poem for Armistice Day  

Remember Me

(The voice of the dead)


Remember me

Duty called and I went to war

Though I'd never fired a gun before

I paid the price for your new day

As all my dreams were blown away


Remember me

We all stood true as whistles blew

And faced the shell and stench of Hell

Now battle's done, there is no sound

Our bones decay beneath the ground

We cannot see, or smell, or hear

There is no death, or hope or fear


Remember me

Once we, like you, would laugh and talk

And run and walk and do the things that you all do

But now we lie in rows so neat

Beneath the soil, beneath your feet


Remember me

In mud and gore and the blood of war

We fought and fell and move no more

Remember me, I am not dead

I'm just a voice within your head


Harry Riley


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Home at Last


Author’s introduction to this poem.


“One of the sadnesses when I served in Cyprus and Aden was the fact that our servicemen who died on active service were buried in the theatre in which they fell.

I applaud the authorities for the policy of repatriation, and watching the news reports of the ceremonies at Lyneham and Wootton Bassett, felt moved to write these lines.”


Home at Last


He's home at last, a mother's son, a fine young man, his duty done,

Yet not for him the fond embrace, a loving kiss, a smiling face

Or cries of joy to laugh and cheer the safe return of one so dear,

It is his lot to show the world a soldiers fate as flags unfurl

And Standards lower in salutation, symbols of a grateful nation.


Sombre now, the drum beats low, as he is carried, gentle, so

As if not to disturb his rest, by comrades, three and three abreast

Who now, as quiet orders sound, they, one by one then move around

To place him in the carriage decked with flowers in calm and hushed respect,

Preparing for the sad, slow ride through silent crowds who wait outside.


So the warrior now returns to native soil and rightly earns

The great respect to one so young, though sadness stills the waiting throng,

While flowers strew the path he takes, as the carriage slowly makes

A final turning to allow the veterans standing there to show

The soldiers pride, a silent, mute, proud and respectful last salute.


Yet, while onlookers stand and see the simple, moving ceremony,

There is a home, a place somewhere, where sits a waiting, vacant chair,

And one great yawning empty space in someone's heart, no last embrace

To bid a final, fond farewell to one who will forever dwell

In love and cherished memory, a Husband, Son, eternally.


And we who see should not forget that in this soldier's final debt

And sacrifice for duty's sake, it is the loved ones who must take

The hurt, to bear as best they can, and face a future lesser than

The one they dreamed in bygone years, now to regard with bitter tears,

Reflecting, as time intervenes, on thoughts of how it might have been.


But in their grief there's quiet pride that loved ones bravely fought and died

Believing in a worthy goal which helps give solace, and consoles

By knowing that the loss they bear is shared by all our peoples where

In gratitude, their names will be forever honoured, guaranteed

To be remembered and enshrined, beyond the shifting sands of time.


Tony Church


Tony Church's military background

"I ended my 12 years of military service on my return from Aden in 1966.

I joined the Army Apprentices in 1955 serving a three year apprenticeship, being transferred into the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers to serve a further nine years with the Colours and three in the Reserve.

I now write the occasional verse and post on the website of the Arborfield Old BoysAssociation.

One of my contemporaries (with my permission) published a number of my verses under the title of "TeeCee's Arborfield Odes" - obviously of only limited appeal!

Now residing in Titchfield, Hants, overlooking the Isle of Wight."




Sunset Vigil


The news is spread far and wide

Another comrade has sadly died

A sunset vigil upon the sand

As a soldier leaves this foreign land


We stand alone, and yet as one

In the fading light of a setting sun

We’ve all gathered to say goodbye

To our fallen comrade who’s set to fly


The eulogy’s read about their life

Sometimes with words from pals or wife

We all know when the CO’s done

What kind of soldier they’d become


The padre then calls us all to pray

The bugler has Last Post to play

The cannon roars and belches flame

We will recall, with pride, their name


A minute’s silence stood in place

As tears roll down the hardest face

deafening silence fills the air

With each of us in personal prayer


Reveille sounds and the parade is done

The hero remembered, forgotten by none

They leave to start the journey back

In a coffin draped in the Union Jack


Sgt Andy McFarlane, 2009.


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The two poems by Kenny Martin were written in 2003 following a visit he made in 2002 with his son to Commonwealth War Graves in the Arnhem/Oosterbeek/Nijmegen area of Holland. These are his first ever poems. Kenny Martin's second poem is I went to see the soldiers which may be found lower down this page.




I do not know your name


I do not know your name, but I know you died

I do not know from where you came, but I know you died

 

Your uniform, branch of service, it matters not to me

Whether Volunteer or Conscript, or how it came to be

That politicians' failures, or some power-mad ambition

Brought you too soon to your death, in the name of any nation


You saw, you felt, you knew full well, as friend and foe were taken

By bloody death, that your life too, was forfeit and forsaken

Yet on you went and fought and died, in your close and private hell

For Mate or Pal or Regiment and memories never to tell


It was for each other, through shot and shell, the madness you endured

Side by side, through wound and pain, and comradeship assured

No family ties, or bloodline link, could match that bond of friend

Who shared the horror and kept on going, at last until the end


We cannot know, we were not there, it's beyond our comprehension

To know the toll that battle brings, of resolute intention

To carry on, day by day, for all you loved and hoped for

To live in peace a happy life, away from bloody war


For far too many, no long life ahead, free of struggle and pain and the gun

And we must remember the price that was paid, by each and every one

Regardless of views, opinions aside, no matter how each of us sees it

They were there and I cannot forget, even though I did not live it


I do not know your name, but I know you died

I do not know from where you came, but I know you died.


Kenny Martin, 2003



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The Crosses

I stood there before the crosses

glowing white in row on row

Everyone a young life cut short

as the names upon them show.


The dates they died below the names

tell of wars now past and gone

Passchendaele, the Somme, and Mons

of battles fought, and lost or won.


History remembers, as it should

these men who fought and died

Whilst for their families left behind

a dull sorrow tinged with pride.


The faces of boys held now in Sepia

who died in days long gone

yet living on in memories

and hearts, still holding on.


Yet despite the hurt and grief here

what with horror makes me fill

Is that when I look behind me

there are more new crosses growing still.


Bill Mitton


Do you know?


When darkness comes

And with it the shadows of the dead

Do you know?

When battles fought fly around my head

Do you know?

When you speak with an acid tongue

And tell me I was wrong

Do you know the price we paid

In the jungles of Vietnam?


No sit there in your easy chair

And dream your dreams of comfort

Do not break your narrow view

Or try to see from my side

For you break into fears sweat

If your welfare check’s to late

Or someone knocks upon your door

When its getting to way past eight


You judge me without knowing

And that is no judge at all

For experience tells the adult

What the young do not yet know

Just give me one small ounce of feeling

As a parent to a child

And hug me as my heart is breaking

Right here deep inside


I suffered more than you can know

In that dark leafed place

Where death walked side by side with me

And often showed his face

Some days I did not know if I

Was ever coming home

And then I’m faced with acid rain

From you when I come home


I fought because I’m a soldier

And a warriors hearts beats within me

You comfort lover would not understand this

So I retreat

But know this when you finally see

Before your last breath leaves you cold

That all I wanted was your love

And not a heart of stone


Ann-Marie Spittle

2006




To page two of Remembrance Poems in a Traditional Vein



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