FORTY YEARS ON
by John Farmer
Forty years on, when
afar and asunder
Parted are those who are singing today,
When you look
back, and forgetfully wonder
What you were like in your work and your play,
Then, it may be, there will often come o'er you,
Glimpses of notes like
the catch of a song -
Visions of boyhood shall float them before you,
Echoes of dreamland shall bear them along,
Follow up! Follow up! Follow up! Follow up!
Till the field ring again and
With the tramp of the twenty-two men.
Follow up! Follow up!
Routs and discomfitures, rushes and rallies,
attempted, and rescued, and won,
Strife without anger, and art without
How will it seem to you, forty years on?
Then, you will say,
not a feverish minute
Strained the weak heart and the wavering knee,
Never the battle raged hottest, but in it,
Neither the last nor the
faintest, were we!
O the great days, in the distance
Days of fresh air, in the rain and the sun,
How we rejoiced
as we struggled and panted -
Hardly believable, forty years on!
discoursed of them, one with another,
Auguring triumph, or balancing fate,
Loved the ally with the heart of a brother,
Hated the foe with a
playing at hate!
Forty years on, growing older and older,
Shorter in wind, as in memory long,
Feeble of foot, and rheumatic of
What will it help you that once you were strong?
God give us
bases to guard or beleaguer,
Games to play out, whether earnest or fun;
Fights for the fearless, and goals for the eager,
Twenty, and thirty,
and forty years on!
(written for Sir Winston Churchill's
ninetieth birthday and first sung 28th November 1964)
honour! For each generation
You kindled courage to stand and to stay;
You led our fathers to fight for the nation,
Called "Follow up" and
yourself showed the way.
We who were born in the calm after the thunder
Cherish our freedom to think and to do;
If in our turn we forgetfully
Yet we'll remember we owe it to you.