Sunday Snippet: Laurence Binyon (1869 - 1943)

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, 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.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day here in Canada. I’ve previously written about why we say “lest we forget” and I’ve posted the famous In Flanders Fields poem. We are now several generations removed from the Great War, but sadly war is not just a thing of the past; it continues to ravage our planet and rob us of our innocence. And so, we must all take a moment to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

An English poet and scholar, Laurence Binyon is best known for writing For the Fallen, the poem that you can read above. It is oftentimes used at Remembrance Sunday services in the United Kingdom, as would be the case today. November 11, known as Remembrance Day in Canada and Armistice Day in many other parts of the world, marks the end of World War I. Some have said that this poem, particularly the fourth verse, is a tribute to all the casualties of war, regardless of on which side they fought.

And that’s really what is at the heart of it all. Regardless of who you view as the “good” guy and who as the “bad” guy, the death and suffering that results from armed conflict feels so wasteful. As a global community, it is far more fruitful to consider how we can live with one another in peace. Let’s not allow another young soldier to die in vain.