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Bush poet tells story behind Anzac poem

Jim Brown

When ASOPA PEOPLE published the poem ‘Anzac on the Wall’ on Anzac Day, we set off a chain reaction amongst readers, who are still accessing the poem on the website two weeks later. I’ve been in touch with the poet, Jim Brown, and here’s the story of how the poem came to be written - KJ.

The story behind the Anzac on the Wall is that I was a TV journalist and, in 1990, went to Gallipoli to cover the 90th anniversary of the Anzac landing.

Before I went, I visited the Military archives in Canberra looking for photos for a documentary film, and a lovely old man put a cardboard box in front of me which contained letters written to and from the war front. The letters could not be identified, and therefore could be returned to the families.

I made notes at the time and later in life became a bush poet. The trigger for the poem was the photograph of the Anzac on the Wall, which I have in my possession and carry it with me when I perform the poem. The photo led me to incorporate the information I had gleaned from the letters. The suffering of those waiting at home had not been written about enough, and time and again it seemed that those close to the land knew the very instant they had lost a loved one on the other side of the world. From those letters I wrote about the lightning storm, the horse bolting etc.

I am humbled by the fact that so many people have been moved by the poem, especially around Anzac Day.

I have recorded the poem on CD, with other Australian classic and original poems. The cost is $25 which includes postage etc.

You can contact Jim by emailing him here.


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John Cotter

An inspired poem, Jim. Helps people like me know how lucky we are, not to have been in a war. Keep 'em coming.

John Harvey

I first came across Jim's poem via an email from one of my friends in 2008 and was overwhelmed by the story. Tears flowed and I knew that this was a very special poem that I would treasure and share forever. Today I can recite the poem with just a little prompting and have read it every Anzac Day since. Tears still swell in my eyes and I still have difficulty continuing the poem towards the end. I have sent and given out hundreds of 4 page copies of the poem and always have extra copies with me on Anzac Day to pass on to friends and interested acquaintances . I guess I will now try and get a copy of Jim's recording. A truly beautiful poem and a very moving story.
Thank you Jim Brown.
John Harvey Newcastle NSW

Celia Clarke

I was passed an email about 'Anzac on the Wall' and there were two photographs at the end.

One was the same as the one featured on YouTube but the other one was a bit different but still looked as though it might be the same person. Does anyone know anything about this please?

Donald McLeish

Only today I discovered this beautiful work and immediately wrote to Jim hoping to get his recorded version. Like many others passed on by a friend.

The words are to be cherished, and it would appear they are by many people. I narrowly missed out on the Vietnam ballot and have friends who went to that war. I will bring the poem to their attention as soon as possible and I know they will appreciate it.

Jo McAulay

The poem is dad and friends are going overseas to Gallipoli this year...leaving tomorrow and will be over that way for ANZAC Day...his friend going with him found this poem. I'm going to read it to my residents in the nursing home this week...well done!!

Jeannie Dettori

I came to Australia many years ago and I'm fascinated with Australian history and I love poetry. I came across your poem and I thought it was so well written I just had to share it with friends, all of whom have been so impressed and moved by it, particularly on Anzac Day.- We have all lost family members in one war or another and many of us still have relatives in the forces or others that have served.the profound sentiments in your poem have touched us all.

Jeannie Dettori

Ian Felton

Thank you Jim for that great nostalgic poem that what forwarded to me by my friend Jeannie Dettori , with her permission I posted it in my Australiana space prior to ANZAC day and evoked comments of appreciation to the author , as an exserviceman with twenty years in the army including South Vietnam and a brief time in the highlands of New Guinea in 1969 , primarily operating out of Menyamya , I have a great affinity to all service personnel and also a sense of feeling for PNG and its peoples , I am a poet and a poor writer now and Jeannie has the links to my works on spaces if you care to visit and comment , once again thanks for raising that poem and presenting it to the publics eyes
Ian Felton

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