Tuesday, November 11, 2008

In Flanders Fields

In honor of Veterans Day and the 90th anniversary of the Armistice that ended WWI, I thought it would be fitting to reprint the poem In Flanders Fields.

It was written by Dr. John McCrae, a military physician with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces during WWI. McCrae wrote in response to the death of a former student during the Second Battle of Ypres on May 3, 1915. A fellow soldier who was moved by the poem sent it to the British magazine Punch where it was published anonymously. However, the following year it was published under McCrae's name. McCrae would not live to see the Armistice dying of pneumonia in January 1918. When I was attending school as a child in Canada we memorized this poem for Remembrance Day (which is what we call Veterans Day in Canada.) I cannot say with any certainty that this practice continues, especially with the third verse.


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.

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