Find our favourite ANZAC Day poems here!
ANZAC Day is a commemoration and respectful remembering of those who gave their lives so that we may live ours. In this spirit, poetry is often used to express the unexpressable. It shapes the services and the marches and is often used in school settings to represent the solemn sacrifice made by so many young men who lay down their lives for their country.
Here are some ANZAC Day poems that children may recognise or may wish to use to create their own tribute and respectful reflection of those young men who lost their lives in service.
ANZAC DAY Poems from the Australian War Memorial
The following poems were found on the website of the Australian War Memorial. They are reflective of the different poems that are often read out during services or commemorations.
John McRae’s “In Flanders Fields” was written during the First World War. This is the poem that saw poppies become intrinsically linked to the remembrance of fallen soldiers in battle. It was written on the battlefield and, legend has it, was thrown away by the man who wrote it. His fellow soldiers retrieved it and pressed upon him its importance as an historical document.
In Flanders Fields (John McRae)
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
“For The Fallen” was, similarly, written on the battlefield. It was written in honour of fallen soldiers who were battling against a seemingly unending tide of enemy soldiers. It is now used as a tribute to casualities of any nation and still rings very much true. This is the poem where the lines “at the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them” come from – we use these lines in our own ANZAC commemorations.
For The Fallen (Laurence Binyon)
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 at 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.
A Brown Slouch Hat
There is a symbol, we love and adore it,
You see it daily wherever you go.
Long years have passed since our fathers once wore it,
What is the symbol that we should all know?
It’s a brown slouch hat with the side turned up, and it means the world to me.
It’s the symbol of our Nation—the land of liberty.
And as soldiers they wear it, how proudly they bear it, for all the world to see.
Just a brown slouch hat with the side turned up, heading straight for victory.
Don’t you thrill as young Bill passes by?
Don’t you beam at the gleam in his eye?
Head erect, shoulders square, tunic spic and span,
Ev’ry inch a soldier and ev’ry inch a man.
As they swing down the street, aren’t they grand?
Three abreast to the beat of the band,
But what do we remember when the boys have passed along?
Marching by so brave and strong.
Just a brown ….
J Albert & Son, Sydney, 1942
Not a Hero
The ANZAC Day march was over – the old Digger had done his best.
His body ached from marching – it was time to sit and rest.
He made his way to a park bench and sat with lowered head.
A young boy passing saw him – approached and politely said,
“Please sir do you mind if I ask you what the medals you wear are for?
Did you get them for being a hero, when fighting in a war?”
Startled, the old Digger moved over and beckoned the boy to sit.
Eagerly the lad accepted – he had not expected this!
“First of all I was not a hero,” said the old Digger in solemn tone,
“But I served with many heroes, the ones that never came home.
So when you talk of heroes, it’s important to understand,
The greatest of all heroes gave their lives defending this land.
“The medals are worn in their honour, as a symbol of respect.
All diggers wear them on ANZAC Day – it shows they don’t forget.”
The old digger then climbed to his feet and asked the boy to stand.
Carefully he removed the medals and placed them in his hand.
He told him he could keep them – to treasure throughout his life,
A legacy of a kind – left behind – paid for in sacrifice.
Overwhelmed the young boy was speechless – he couldn’t find words to say.
It was there the old Digger left him – going quietly on his way.
In the distance the young boy glimpsed him – saw him turn and wave goodbye.
Saddened he sat alone on the bench – tears welled in his eyes.
He never again saw him ever – but still remembers with pride,
When the old Digger told him of Heroes and a young boy sat and cried.
I saw a kid marchin’ with medals on his chest.
He marched alongside Diggers marching six abreast.
He knew that it was ANZAC Day – he walked along with pride.
He did his best to keep in step with the Diggers by his side.
And when the march was over the kid was rather tired.
A Digger said “Whose medals, son?” to which the kid replied:
“They belong to daddy, but he did not come back.
He died up in New Guinea on a lonely jungle track”.
The kid looked rather sad then and a tear came to his eye.
The Digger said “Don’t cry my son and I will tell you why.
Your daddy marched with us today – all the blooming way.
We Diggers know that he was there – it’s like that on ANZAC Day”.
The kid looked rather puzzled and didn’t understand,
But the Digger went on talking and started to wave his hand.
“For this great land we live in, there’s a price we have to pay
For we all love fun and merriment in this country where we live.
The price was that some soldier his precious life must give.
For you to go to school my lad and worship God at will,
Someone had to pay the price so the Diggers paid the bill.
Your daddy died for us my son – for all things good and true.
I wonder if you understand the things I’ve said to you”.
The kid looked up at the Digger – just for a little while
And with a changed expression, said, with a lovely smile:
“I know my dad marched here today – this is ANZAC Day.
I know he did. I know he did, all the bloomin’ way”.
(A veteran of Shaggy Ridge with the 2/12 Battalion in WW2)
Sonnet for ANZAC Day
Sound the Last Post again, lest we forget
the freedom that we cherish has been bought –
not found like mushrooms in the field; the debt
is ours to pay, mindful of those who fought
and fell – yet still they held the torch aloft!
May we remain as zealous to withstand
the traitors who would make our fibres soft,
as well as enemies beyond the land.
The trumpet has the power to move us still,
and though the debris of a flood of years
lies over hand and mind, an aching thrill
comes rising perilously close to tears.
Sound the Last Post to hold the memory bright,
then sound the Rouse and keep the torch alight.
A Tribute to ANZAC Day
With their hair a little whiter, their step not quite so sure
Still they march on proudly as they did the year before.
Theirs were the hands that saved us, their courage showed the way
Their lives they laid down for us, that we may live today.
From Gallipoli’s rugged hillsides, to the sands of Alamein
On rolling seas and in the skies, those memories will remain.
Of airmen and the sailors, of Lone Pine and Suvla Bay
The boys of the Dardenelles are remembered on this day.
They fought their way through jungles, their blood soaked desert sands
They still remember comrades who rest in foreign lands.
They remember the siege of old Tobruk, the mud of the Kokoda Trail
Some paying the supreme sacrifice with courage that did not fail.
To the icy land of Korea, the steamy jungles of Vietnam
And the heroic battle of Kapyong and that epic victory at Long Tan.
Fathers, sons and brothers, together they fought and died
That we may live in peace together, while at home their mothers cried.
When that final bugle calls them to cross that great divide
Those comrades will be waiting when they reach the other side.
Other ANZAC Day poems for kids
Banjo Paterson, the renowned bush poet, wrote the majority of his tomes with a focus on the bush and outback lifestyle. So stirred was he by the ANZAC legend, however, that he put pen to paper in this ferociously patriotic missive that brought together the British Empire in celebration of the achievements of ‘our boys’. Here are his rousing words in, “We’re All Australian Now”.
Australia takes her pen in hand,
To write a line to you,
To let you fellows understand,
How proud we are of you.
From shearing shed and cattle run,
From Broome to Hobsons Bay,
Each native-born Australian son,
Stands straighter up today.
The man who used to “hump his drum”,
On far-out Queensland runs,
Is fighting side by side with some
Tasmanian farmer’s sons.
The fisher-boys dropped sail and oar
To grimly stand the test,
Along that storm-swept Turkish shore,
With miners from the west.
The old state jealousies of yore
Are dead as Pharaoh’s sow,
We’re not State children any more
We’re all Australians now!
Our six-starred flag that used to fly,
Half-shyly to the breeze,
Unknown where older nations ply
Their trade on foreign seas,
Flies out to meet the morning blue
With Vict’ry at the prow;
For that’s the flag the Sydney flew,
The wide seas know it now!
The mettle that a race can show
Is proved with shot and steel,
And now we know what nations know
And feel what nations feel.
The honoured graves beneath the crest
Of Gaba Tepe hill,
May hold our bravest and our best,
But we have brave men still.
With all our petty quarrels done,
We have, through what you boys have done,
A history of our own.
Our old world diff’rences are dead,
Like weeds beneath the plough,
For English, Scotch, and Irish-bred,
They’re all Australians now!
So now we’ll toast the Third Brigade,
That led Australia’s van,
For never shall their glory fade
In minds Australian.
Fight on, fight on, unflinchingly,
Till right and justice reign.
Fight on, fight on, till Victory
Shall send you home again.
And with Australia’s flag shall fly
A spray of wattle bough,
To symbolise our unity,
We’re all Australians now.
Why encourage the study of poetry?
Beyond a respectful celebration of the ANZAC legend, there are many benefits for young children when it comes to reading and studying poetry.
Poetry encourages a love of language as the language devices used by the poet shift and sing, making the words pleasing to the ear. Poetry encourages children to be similarly playful and creative with their own use of language which will be evidenced by the incredible amount of adjectives junior budding poets use in their English classes!
The lyrical nature of poetry makes it easier to remember and recite – a skill that many young public speakers find incredibly useful. This, too, may have the impact of increasing self-confidence as children experiment with performative elements.
Children may be inspired by these works to create their own tributes in other mediums. Music, art, photography, sculpture, gardening projects, cooking, reading and writing – there are many ways and means to let feelings out and meditate over important concepts.
ANZAC Day Poems
Do your children enjoy poetry? Please share this article with anyone who may find it useful or inspiring!