When Remembrance was New - poem by Owen Ellis

In an English country churchyard
On a dank November day,
Lies that bright, nostalgic symbol,
A Flanders poppy spray;

And across the years a memory
Of a set-faced, solemn throng,
With a Legion banner leading
As they marched to Evensong.

Then the clink and glint of medals
In the mellow light of the Nave,
As the echoing tread dies to silence
For the lies which their comrades gave.

Ah, the glamour of those stalwarts
Glimpsed through the hands of a lad:
"Who is the one with the creaky leg
And that long row of medals, Dad?"

But hush: hear the names familiar
Of those who were left behind;
Names inscribed on the village cross,
Etched with awe on a schoolboy's mind.

Then rise from the sermon soft spoken
By that gentle voice steadfast;
Join in the hymn all enduring:
"Oh God our help in ages past."

The brightness of the poppies
Will fade in the winter's rain;
Medals so carefully burnished
Will not be worn again.

For each November's passing
Leaves a gap in the ranks of the few,
Who with pride and sorrow blended
Knelt when Remembrance was new.

From St. Peter's Quartet
See also
Reflections in the Churchyard of St. Peter's, Birch

Spring Wedding

The Bailey Meadow

Author: Owen Ellis
ID: ELS_066
Source: Mersea Museum