Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembrance Day

In Flanders fields the poppies grow
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.

"In Flanders Fields" is one of the most notable poems written during World War I, created in the form of a French rondeau. It has been called "the most popular poem" produced during that period.  Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae is popularly believed to have written it on 3 May 1915, after he witnessed the death of his friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, 22 years old, the day before. The poem was first published on 8 December of that year in the London-based magazine Punch.

The poppies referred to in the poem grew in profusion in Flanders in the disturbed earth of the battlefields and cemeteries where war casualties were buried and thus became a symbol of Remembrance Day. The poem is often part of Remembrance Day solemnities in Allied countries which contributed troops to World War I, particularly in countries of the British Empire that did so.

The poem has achieved near-mythical status in contemporary Canada and is one of the nation's most prominent symbols. Most Remembrance Day ceremonies will feature a reading of the poem in some form (it is also sung in some places), and many Canadian school children memorize the verse. The poem is part of Remembrance Day ceremonies in the United Kingdom, where it holds as one of the nation's best-loved, and is occasionally featured in Memorial Day ceremonies in the United States.


hostess of the humble bungalow said...

It is a haunting and poignant poem...I cannot hear it without shedding a tear.

The Canadian Scottish regiment will be drumming and piping dressed in their kilts as they parade through the streets to the war memorial and there will be a service with the local veterans laying wreaths today...remembering those who have given so much for freedom.

Town and Country Mom said...

Thank you for reminding me of this haunting poem and for sharing the story behind it.