A certain cast to their features marked
the English going into battle, & then, that
glint in the Frenchman’s eye meant ‘Folks,
clear the room!’ The Turks knew death
would take them to a paradise of sex
Islam reserves for its warrior dead
& the Scots had their music. The Germans
worshipped the State & Death, so for them
the Maximschlacht was almost a sacrament.
Recruiting posters made the Irish soldier
look like a saint on a holy card, soppy & pious,
the way the Yanks go on about their dead.
Not so the Australians, unamused, unimpressed
they went over the top like men clocking on,
in this first full-scale industrial war.
Which is why Anzac Day continues to move us,
& grow, despite attempts to make it
a media event (left to them we’d attend
‘The Foxtel Dawn Service’). But The March is
proof we got at least one thing right, informal,
straggling & more cheerful than not, it’s
like a huge works or 8 Hour Day picnic—
if we still had works, or unions, that is.
© John Forbes