Where does the idea, the feeling and the great passion come from?

Many of those alive today truly respect the efforts of our service personnel, their commitment to stand up and protect our beliefs. This respect is to all those serving and those past.

Most pain and thus respect is generated from the numerous larger incursions, namely the first and second World Wars.

The Great War, as World War 1 is commonly referred to, is estimated to have contributed to the deaths of 40 million people worldwide, and is seen as the bloodiest war in history. Much that is remembered and recorded by those closest to the frontlines, is captured in the forms of Poems, some so reflective of the feelings of those involved, have become almost Prayers or Hymms.

“Lest we forget” is often said along with the “Ode of Remembrance” by Laurence Binyons.

Written “For the Fallen” just after the retreat from Mons and what was to become known as ‘The Miracle of the Marne’, when the German advance upon Paris was finally halted and turned, but at great cost.

The four lines of the fourth stanza of the poem are also known as the ‘Ode of Remembrance’.

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.

The phrase encapsulates our desire to remember the past tragedy and sacrifice and ensure that such bloody catastrophe never happens again.

The term “Lest We Forget”

However, where does the phrase “Lest we forget” originate from?

The phrase originates in a Victorian poem by writer Rudyard Kipling, who composed it before it was then used to commentate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897, when it was published in The Times.

The poem, five stanzas in length and comprised of six lines each, was titled Recessional.

The full poem Recessional by Rudyard Kipling

God of our fathers, known of old,
Lord of our far-flung battle line,
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies;
The Captains and the Kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

Far-called our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard,
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding calls not Thee to guard,
For frantic boast and foolish word—
Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord!

The poem is thought to represent much about the declinining British Empire of the time, and how nothing lasts forever, taking a solemn and grave tone. It is not a poem about war, but its grim realism mirrors the universal sadness after World War I.

Leave a Reply

Close Menu