Row upon row, the crosses stand,
An army on parade,
Tended now by gentler hand
‘Neath verdant palisade.
Like silent sentinels, the trees
Stand guard here day and night
Though now only the bees
And vengeful magpies keep the fight.
No Sergeant-Major’s voice is heard,
No bugle call to battle.
The sound of leaves, by breezes stirred,
The call of distant cattle.
Baptised by mud and blood and sweat,
They heard their country’s call.
Waved off by crowds who then forget
And never see them fall.
From battle’s fertile fields, they’re borne
With honour to this place.
That we’ve not learned their lesson
Means yet more will meet their fate.
Though the lucky ones return,
It’s clear they’re never quite the same.
They, too, have paid a heavy price
Despite the victory claim.
3 April 2017