Children of the Anzacs
© Catherine Lee
Winner, 2015 Cervantes Festival of Arts Bush Poetry Competition, Cervantes WA.
The crosses line the hillsides where heroic southern sons
rest peacefully where once was heard the thunder of the guns;
back then the beach was strewn with both the living and the dead,
and searchlights raked the sky while shrapnel ruptured overhead.
Where once the soldiers battled from each overcrowded trench
with countless foes on every side amidst disgusting stench,
diseases, endless flies, harsh weather, lack of decent food,
the atmosphere is tranquil now, with poignancy imbued.
Gallipoli is beautiful, the landscape lies at peace—
from terrible hostilities came ultimate release.
In April there is blossom lining jagged cliffs and shore
where cries of wounded, dying men are lingering no more.
Where once they trod the vale of death and learnt such fear and pain
that those who made it home were never truly young again,
the verdant grasses, iris and forget-me-not now grows,
while blackbird song is heard above the cemetery rows.
This site once seemed a cesspit from the very depths of hell,
where troops of many nations bravely suffered, fought and fell—
yet gazing all around us at the coming of the dawn,
we mark it as the spot the Anzac character was born.
With fortitude and loyalty that earned them high esteem,
Australians and Kiwis fought as one united team,
inherent pioneering nature coursing through their veins
creating Anzac legend—and their legacy remains.
It’s felt in schools and workplace and on sports fields everywhere—
this drive, endurance, humour, sense of comradeship we share;
a quality no obstacle or hardship ever quells,
conceived upon these foreign shores within the Dardanelles.
It’s there when times are tough and people lend a helping hand—
exists when Mother Nature spews her wrath upon the land;
it rides throughout the bush, inhabits cities far and wide,
and sits on every barstool when we yarn, recall, confide.
Though underneath the Turkish soil battalions of them lie,
their spirit burns within us and we’ll never let it die;
we owe our lives and liberty to those beneath our feet,
so this is now intrinsic and by no means knows defeat.
Without a word they passed the torch for all of us to bear—
we raise it high within our hearts, a trait beyond compare.
Forever we’ll remember those in dark, eternal sleep—
we’re children of the Anzacs, and our heritage runs deep.