A row of service people's gravestones

The Ode of Remembrance

Anita Jaensch 20 October 2020

If you’ve ever attended an ANZAC Day or Remembrance Day service, you will have heard the stirring words of The Ode.

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.

The Ode of Remembrance – often referred to simply as The Ode – is actually only the third and fourth stanzas of Laurence Binyon’s poem, For the Fallen.

He wrote it less than two months after the outbreak of World War I, in response to the heavy casualties suffered by the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front. Appearing in The Times on 21 September 1918, the sentiments it expressed were in stark contrast to the tone of news reports and other poems at the time.

The Ode has been read at commemorative services in Australia since 1921, expressing the nation’s collective feelings of respect and loss for the service people who gave their lives during World War I, and in all conflicts since.

Tags:
  • History & commemoration