Commissioned by Voices of Birralee.
Suitable for ANZAC day and Remembrance day, the words are based on the poem ‘A Soldier’s
Cemetery’, by John William Streets (killed and
missing in action on 1 July 1916, aged 31)
“Behind that long and lonely trenched line
To which men come and go, where brave men
There is a yet unmarked and unknown shrine,
A broken plot, a soldier’s cemetery.
There lie the flower of youth, the men who scorn’d
To live (so died) when languished Liberty:
Across their graves flowerless and unadorned
Still scream the shells of each artillery.
When war shall cease this lonely unknown spot
Of many a pilgrimage will be the end,
And flowers will shine in this now barren plot
And fame upon it through the years descend:
But many a heart upon each simple cross
Will hang the grief, the memory of its loss.”
As any Australian I am appreciative of the fact
that there were young men who went to war for
the freedom that we now enjoy. It is very difficult
to imagine what the men went through, fighting
in a foreign land. John William Streets’ poem
appealed to me because of the description of
the innocence of young men willing to sacrifice
their lives for our freedom. The opening line
conveys a graphic image of a trenched line that
is the difference for these brave men between
life and death.
– Sherelle Eyles
Performances: World Premiere at ‘Voices from the Trenches’ Pemulwuy Festival at Qld Performing Arts Complex 2017.