Laurence Binyon (1869–1943): For the Fallen

Translated by Timothy Adès

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

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.

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.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well–spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Poem by Robert Laurence Binyon (1869–1943), published in The Times newspaper on 21st September 1914.

mater agit grates et honores Anglia reddit,
dum gemit occisos trans maris alta suos.
hoc genus, hic genius patriae: male passa tyrannos
mater, et his eadem causa suprema fuit.
funere ab augusto cantatur in aetheris arces
nenia; sollemni tympana voce sonant;
audimus medio coelestia carmina luctu,
et mira in lacrimis gloria luce nitet.
ad pugnam egreditur iuvenum cum cantibus agmen;
stat robur membris, lucet in ore fides;
intrepidique ultro, veniant si milia contra,
hostibus adverso comminus ore cadunt.
non illos poterit ceu nos vexare senectus,
non anni fessis imposuisse notam.
illorum memores cernemus condere solem
lumen, item prima luce rubere polum.
quos nec ridentes cari comitantur amici,
nec iamiam retinent mensa, cubile, domus:
nec datur his operis nostri pars ulla diurni,
sed procul a patriae litore, grata quies.
at qua surgit amor nobis, quibus orta profundis
spes similis caecae condita fontis aquae,
noverit hos penitusque fovens in pectore condet
patria, ceu nocti sidera nota, suos.
hi, cum nos erimus pulvis, velut astra nitebunt,
quae carpent caeli per loca rite vias;
sidera uti splendent, ubi nos premit hora tenebris,
perpetua haec durat luce corusca cohors.

Translation: Copyright © Timothy Adès

An homage to Laurence Binyon and to all those who fell in the Great War and in subsequent wars.

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