Laurence BinyonBorn Robert Laurence Binyon(1869-1943) was an English poet, dramatist and art scholar. His most famous work, For the Fallen, is well known for being used in Remembrance Sunday services.For The Fallen was first published in the Times on September 21 1914. Laurence Binyon wrote it while working at the British Museum, and did not go to the western front until 1916, as a Red Cross orderly.The poems fourth verse is now used all over the world during services of remembrance, and is inscribed on countless war monuments.
Context‘For the fallen’ is one of the most famous and enduring war poems, and it was written at an historic moment just after the retreat from Mons and the victory of the Marne. As to how it came to be written, Laurence Binyon, who celebrated his 70th anniversary on 10 August 1939, says: "I cant recall the exact date beyond that it was shortly after the retreat. I was set down, out of doors, on a cliff in, Cornwall. The stanza "They Shall Grow Not Old" was written first and dictated the rhythmical movement of the whole poem."
Initial Impression The theme that is gradually exposed is that of an ironic yet solemn nature. The painful, bloody demise of soldiers is commonly depicted as an unfortunate situation drastically cutting the lives of these men short. In contrast, Binyon depicts the lives of these young soldiers as eternal and that while the mortality of humanity disallows others of escaping death, these deceased will have their lives lengthened to eternity, for as long as they are remembered. Binyon’s theme is imparted to the reader with his organized structure that allows smooth flow and transition throughout the poem. His 7 quatrains share the same rhyme scheme of “ABCB” allowing a smooth and comfortable reading of the poem that is appealing to the ear. His frequent pauses are expressed using punctuation and encourage gradualism to emphasise certain ideas such as the losses experienced in lines 17-20. The title ‘for the Fallen’ suggest soldiers fighting in France, perhaps falling physically because they were brutally killed or fallen from the grace of God and of their humanity. Ambiguous whether is it commemorating solely the British or the German Soldiers as well.
The sacrifice of soldiers to fight for their nation. Stanza A soldiers mother, proud that her son is fulfilling his duty. England and mothers give 1 Mother could also signify England, she is thanks to their sending out her children soldiers or ‘sons’ toPersonifying fight for freedomEngland, the With proud thanksgiving, a mothernation of these against the enemy for her children,men,emphasises the England mourns for her dead across generallygrief presenting the sea. Romanisinga very personal Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of Warand painful her spirit,reaction to thedeath: “flesh of Fallen in the cause of the free.her flesh” “spiritof her spirit”. Nevertheless despite the Imagery of soldiers lined suffering it regards the losses up going over the top, united in spirit and flesh. as a necessary and English blood fighting for purposeful sacrifice as it King and country, acted as states the reason “cause of one the free”.
Mourning the losses. Use of the wordsthrill and royal possibly describes the The midst of glory thenatural human love of all things music and the pridemajestic. This verse conjures images ofparents, wives and lovers crying out tothe skies on news of their loved ones Stanza 2 act as camaraderie perhaps to illustrate the home front wasdeath . There is a strong sense of pride blissfully unaware ofthat they lost them for a powerful the devastationcause. 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. The music perhaps acting as a blanket or a shield to drown The tears act as a out the utter savagery of mans consequence the of glory inhumanity to man and pride shield the mechanised, vast-scale carnage of 20th century warfare
Youthful, a lust for life. The comma The soldiers blazing withStanza 3 allows reflection pride, true to England amongst the and their beliefs. As time melancholy progressed that soonThe speaker statement. That the diminished, as faith fordramatizes the youth lost their England and inhumanitysadness of the humanity and their became blurred zest for life to fightmourners, elevating for king and country.its meaning as hedeclaims: 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; Staunch They fell with their faces to the foe. (committed) to England, their home, their Reaching This conjures up images of mothers out to the A bleak conclusion, their proud upright youths and exposed commitment consequently made the men in new uniforms, and injured soldiers fall to their enemy. Their marching and showing humanity was destroyed as War had strength to the end as they a lasting impact both physically and fought on regardless. mentally
(This stanza was written first The acknowledgement of and is recited at nature’s sacrifice of the remembrance Sunday) dead, the sun brings a new day- the cycle of nature continuing, but as a new Stanza 4 day begins and life is born, we will remember the past They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.It is easy to see why that fourth stanza, alone,should have been rescued from oblivion. Itconstitutes the turning-point, the moment whenthe poems argument for consolation emerges: For formal reasons as well, that fourth stanza is especially effective.the dead enjoy an eternal youth, immortalised in Its foreshortened final line, We willthe memory of the living and in other more remember them, states withoutpermanent ways. They are ‘as the stars that shall embellishment. It expresses abe bright when we are dust. Their profound recognition which wouldeverlastingness exists outside memory, in a form only be cheapened by rhetoricalof stultification which harks back to a common flourish..motif in Greek myth.
The syntax of ‘not’ after ‘mingle’ A timeless portrait of menStanza 5 perhaps Binyon is struggling to retain their emphasising the fact humanity in an inhuman conflict. that soldiers will ‘not’ Humour escapes soldiers after and will ‘never’ do the magnitude of death they again witnessed. They mingle not with their laughing comrades again; They sit no more at familiar tables of home; They have no lot in our labour of the day-time; They sleep beyond Englands foam. ‘Familiar’ is what the soldiers knew before Binyon’s choice of diction the War, but evidently the War disallowedrepresents poignant solemnise. the continuity of familiarity. In the sense thatThe young men will not be soldiers knew nothing more than their triggercoming home or contributing to finger. Killing was what they knew best, andthe future of the land that sent similar to strange meeting, the trenches was their home and their comrades was theirthem to war. family, because the home front were blissfully unaware of the cataclysm taking place. They would never fully comprehend the unnatural violence that soldiers
Despite the fact that the young Stanza 6soldiers will not returnphysically, they live in the heartsof their profoundly gratefulcountrymen 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; The comparison of a soldiers death and Binyon’s It is though Binyon references to eternity and stars again connotes already understood their that soldiers will live on forever. grave importance of their sacrifice to the world, and the inhumanity surrounding the War though when he wrote this poem the war had only just began
The final stanza celebrates the young soldiers and glorifies further their The dust, and ashes mission with an extended comparison are all that wouldStanza 7 to “the stars” Yet the soldiers’ souls, of course, remain of us, but the soldiers who fought, Optimistic conclusion to the will live eternally their soul or their star poem, their consolation for their in God, even if the will shine on for sacrifice is that their bravery will stars cease to never be forgotten eternity shine. 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. In times of sorrow, we must remember ‘They remain’, that our sadness will The repetition of ‘to the end’ signifies though not physically be overshadowed by that despite their young deaths they will with us, but their the magnitude of distress that the live for eternity, though they died young, sacrifice will always soldiers faced it is the young that will live on forever be remembered referring to the lost souls of the dead