Voices from the Past

A Poem for Anzac Day

25th April, 1915

(By a New Zealander)


They came from field and factory,

From desk and fishing fleet,

From shearing shed and foundry,

From hill and plain and street;

Kin of the old sea rovers,

Sons of that stubborn strain

That swallowed all invasions –

Saxon and Norse and Dane.


Men of the far young countries

New-won by their fathers’ toil;

Taut from an endless striving,

Sons of the sea and the soil;

Little they knew of warfare,

Their lesson was all to learn –

These men of the Golden Wattle,

These lads of the Silver Fern.


The hush of a chill spring morning,

The race to the ragged beach,

The hail of the searing shrapnel,

And the big shells’ angry screech;

Up and up to the ridges,

Through the bullet-belching brucsh,

To the hell pf a fire-girt dawning

And the flame-edged Turkish rush.


The soft Levantine breezes

Steal o’er the storied spot;

The flanks of Achi Baba,

The red-stained Daisy Plot,

The gullies east of Anzac,

The slopes of Sari Bair

Are silent now; yet ever

We honour those who’re there.


Their names shall live for ever

In the Halls of Memory.

They gave their lives as ransom

That we who live be free.

They bought us peace and freedom,

Nor grudged the utmost price.

God grant that we prove worthy

Of their great sacrifice.

Image: New Zealanders before August advance (NAM 2007-550)