IN FLANDERS FIELDS
By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
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
Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915
during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium
May 2, 1915
Forgotten Poiesis and the Red Poppy
Poiesis is an ancient latin term, which translates as “to make” with literature and art. Stepping aside from academic interpretations, when I was a child, I was taught this poem in elementary school. McCrae’s poem was read aloud to help us children, make sense of the first world war. Red poppies represent the mythological material that binds people to a war that ended nearly a century ago.
In addition to the benefit of remembering the most well known poem from WWI, it is worth observing efforts to change the colour of the red poppy to white that are afoot in both Canada and the UK. In particular, drawing on my experience as a resident of British Columbia’s capital city region, the response to this flower colour changing effort has been controversial.
Remembering where the red poppy image comes from is worthwhile. Is it not?
Why do we need to remember Flander’s fields? If poetry can be used as a teaching device, and as a crucial fundraising image/lapel pin for veterans, then practically speaking the red poppy can be used to teach children and adults how to make sense of the First World War, and inspire fundraising for the Canadian Legion.
We’ll update the post when the shortlink for donations becomes available on the Canadian Legion Website. Tim Murphy indicated online donations are currently in development.
- In Flanders Fields published with N.S. nurse’s help (cbc.ca)
- Remember to remember (ourrmhblog.wordpress.com)