"Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn."

This quotation comes from the author's 7-verse poem For the Fallen, honouring the British war dead of World War I and published in The Times newspaper in September 1914. The fourth and sometimes third verses are today recited at memorial services in many countries. Lines from the fourth verse also emblazon many war memorials. There is some debate as to whether the last word of this quote should be "condemn" or "contemn". It is suggested that the use of "condemn" was a misprint when the poem was first published. However, if this were the case the author would have had the opportunity to correct the mistake in later printings, which he appears never to have done. Nevertheless the argument rages, and both words have their place and beauty within the context of the poem.

Origin: (third and fourth verses of "For the Fallen")

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,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

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.

Laurence Binyon (1869-1943) English poet and dramatist

weary (verb): make (someone) tired
condemn (verb): force (someone) to endure something unpleasant
contemn (verb): treat with contempt; despise

Contributor: Josef Essberger

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