12 June 1915

In the deep of the darkling night.
By the storied Trojan seas,
The boats stole out to the fight
On the crag-crowned Cheronese.

For the half-moon waned and sank
As the “tow ships” shoreward drave;
And the young troops, rank on rank.
Gazed dumb at the cliff and the wave.

‘Twas their first grim grapple with death,
With rifle and cold grey steel.
And holding hard at their breath
And the “nerves” they must not feel.

Where even a saint might swear,
And oaths from the heart that leap
Might be counted by God a prayer
In the books the angels keep.

Hound them the shelterless shore.
And in front the trench-rimmed height,
Sniper and field guns’ roar,
As the day broke clear from the night!

But, up the crumbling steep,
And clinging to shrub and thorn,
They proved by their grip and leap
The land where their might wasborn.

‘Oh, look!—yon figure!—on high
On the crest of the broken ledge!
You know him!—the arm and the cry-
As he sways on the topling edge!—

“He has leapt to the parapet!”
Oh, they did his bidding well.
Though their eyes with tears are wet.
In the rush up the steep where he fell!

“Come on, Australians!—on!”
‘Twas a call heard never before
Nor even such a fight was won,
By the winding Dardan shore.

And, as long as tales shall glow
With the tragic deeds of fame.
The splintered cliff shall know
My young Australia’s name.

O Mother, and wife, and child,
I wist your hearts are sore;
But your country, undefiled
And free from shore to shore.

Is proud of you and your dead,
Is proud of your loss and your tears:
The bays on each fallen head
Shall be green for a thousand years!

So the beach and the cliff was won
In their first great costly fight,
In the blaze of the full-day sun
And the deeps of the darkling night.

And the bayonets were unfixt.
And they felt what the victors feel,
Through the dripping tears were mixt
With the red on the reeking steel:

Till Time shall be no more.
They shall sing, by the peaceful seas,
How the fight was fought “by the shore
Of the shot-torn Cheronese!

Sound the Last Post for the dead,
Drop a tear ‘mid the falling tears:
The bays on each hero’s head
Shall be green for a thousand years!

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This entry was posted on June 12th, 2015.