Margaret Naylor

No ceremony here, no tolling bells,
no solemn beauty of a ritual,
no eulogy in hush of church or mosque.
Just silent rows awaiting burial.

All day the mortar shells scream back and forth,
a canopy above the whistling lead.
A sound so furious it numbs the brain
while smoke and flying mud obscure the dead.
The pristine cove is littered with debris.
A young man's hair is ruffled by the tide
and further out to sea a danse macabre
of corpses swaying gently, side by side.

The violent purple evening brings a pause.
By darkness blinded, now the gunners cease.
Survivors huddle under makeshift roofs.
The dead are counted, tagged in transient peace.
There is no rest for those who go to war.
These sounds will be forever in their ears.
These sights will be forever in their eyes
and comrades lost walk with them down the years.

They came on this adventure, young and strong,
this grand excursion to a distant land.
Their childhood faces yet to be erased,
to make the great transition, boy to man.
How is it that the filth and hate of war
transforms to something noble, something pure?
How could death and destruction forge this bond,
this brotherhood and love that will endure?

Yet it is so, for legend came from loss
and brought a nation to maturity.
They live forever, those whose blood was shed
and we will not forget Gallipoli.
The bells toll every year on ANZAC Day.
Dawn ceremony, solemn ritual,
the Ode recited: "They shall not grow old"
and silence to remember those who fell.