Wednesday, September 9, 2009

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 failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

That poem, written on the battlefield of Ypres in 1915, was almost never published. Canadian Lt. Col. John McCrae composed it while sitting on the bumper of an ambulance. The day previous, he had seen his friend Lt. Alexis Helmer killed by an artillery shell, and buried him in a small cemetery next to an aid station. Sergeant-major Cyril Allinson watched him write it, and thought it was "an exact description of the scene in front of us...". Wild poppies were the only things growing in the churned soil of the battlefield cemetery, and they were moving in a light east wind. McCrae was dissatisfied with what he had written, ripped it out of his notebook, and threw it away. It was retrieved by another officer and sent to newspapers in England. McCrae died at the end of the war during the Great Influenza.


sbkittrell said...

Never knock on death's door, ring the doorbell and then run away...he hate's that.

Preparedness Pro said...

In Flanders Fields is one of my favorite poems. Thank you for posting it.

martin said...

This poem is also printed on the reverse of every canadian $10 bill, as can be seen here: