Monday, May 26, 2014

In Flanders Field

Flanders Field, Belgium
John McCrae, 1872-1918
One of the most famous World War I poems was written in 1915 by Canadian John McCrae. He was inspired to write his poem on May 3rd, 1915, after performing the burial service of Alexis Helmer, a friend and fellow soldier who died in the Second Battle of Ypres, Belgium the day before. At the time, he had noted how quickly the poppies grew around the graves of those who had died. Sitting in the back of an ambulance, he composed the poem, then crumpled the paper and threw it away. Another soldier retrieved the poem and convinced McCrae to submit it for publication. McCrae worked on the poem for months before submitting it to The Spectator in London. Although they rejected it, the poem was sent to Punch where it was published on December 8th, 1915.

"In Flanders Field" became the most popular poem of its era. It was republished throughout the world and became synonymous with the sacrifice of soldiers in World War I. Real poppies became a symbol for honoring soldiers of World War I are worn to this day on Remembrance Day.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We Lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from falling hands we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though our poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
      -- Lt. Colonel John McCrae

Canadian Soldiers in France During World War I, 1916

1 comment:

kckid68 said...

Thank you for sharing "In Flanders Field". It made me think about the meaning of this day and our service members, past and present.