Bonhams is to sell a copy of the last and most famous stanza of For the Fallen which begins, "They shall grow not old", handwritten by its author, Lawrence Binyon. It will feature in Part I of The Roy Davids Collection Part III: Poetry: Poetical Manuscripts and Portraits of Poets at Bonhams New Bond Street on 10 April offered at auction and is estimated at £5,000-8,000.
The final verse of For the Fallen is commonly known as the Act or Ode of Remembrance. For many it is the emotional climax of Remembrance Sunday services not only in this country but throughout the Commonwealth and the words are often engraved on cenotaphs, war memorials and on headstones here and in the war cemeteries of northern France.
The copy for sale was written some time before 1918 on British Expeditionary Force (BEF) headed note-paper. This is especially appropriate because when Binyon wrote the poem originally, in 1914, it was to honor the dead of the BEF on the Western Front and he later served as a volunteer medical orderly alongside BEF troops during 1915 and 1916. He was too old for active service.
When For the Fallen was published in The Times in September 1914, casualties had started to mount and the promise of a speedy end to the war was already fading. The poem, and its final verse in particular, became and remains today a dignified and elegiac expression of national grief.
The full text of the final verse reads as follows:
'They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not wither them, nor the years condemn;
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them'
Poetry: Poetical Manuscripts and Portraits of Poets, is the fruit of 40 years of collecting by the poet and scholar Roy Davids and is the finest collection of poetry ever to come to auction. In Mr David's own words, "it would now be impossible for the present collection to be even approximately replicated
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com