Thursday 9 April 2009

April, Poetry Month - 'In Flanders Fields' by John McCrae

This blog is joining other sites and cyber-spaces in celebrating April as Poetry Month. Many thanks and enjoy.

In Flanders Fields

by 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.

Image taken from the BBC archive


  1. That's quite a poem, quite meaningful to me. One of the names I used to use was Gold Poppy, and some of the shamanic work I've done was around WWI, so I've come across the poem many times. It always blows me away. Thank you for this!

  2. Bless you for that one Cuban....I needed that.....
    Did you say chocolate egg (chocolate egg, chocolate egg)?
    Ummm kiddo from London is comng Monday loaded down with real Cadbury's. Loaded :)
    This stuff you get over here is made by Hershey's and is pure unadulterated rubbish :)
    Will be really happy to see kiddo, but if she forgets the chocky......she can get right back on the plane, lol. We're not paying for this ticket for nothing you know!!

    Steady On
    Reggie Girl

  3. Hello Mr Cuban
    This very poignant poem is often read around ANZAC day when Australians and New Zealanders remember family and friends lost in WWI. There are now so few veterans alive. We wear a paper poppy on ANZAC day.

  4. P.S. ANZAC day falls on April 25 and specifically pays tribute to the 'diggers' who lost their lives at that fateful Gallipoli landing. There has been a resurgence of interest in the memorial day over the past few years and now many Australians congregate at Lone Pine for a service.

  5. CiL ....

    An equally well-known poem from World War I by an American killed in action, to join you in your thoughts.


    I think that I shall never see
    A poem lovely as a tree.
    A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
    Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
    A tree that looks at God all day,
    And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
    A tree that may in summer wear
    A nest of robins in her hair;
    Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
    Who intimately lives with rain.
    Poems are made by fools like me,
    But only God can make a tree.

  6. This is a very sad poem... nowadays we do tend to forget about those who died during WWI and II. I'm now reading Remarque's Arch du Triumphe which shows so well brutality of war and desperation and helplessness of those who had to live through those times. I hope we'll never forget.



  7. War polarizes us in two groups. Those who see it as a source of justice, power and a way of organizing society and those who see it as a the cause of misery and a way to destroy civilization. Poetry support both ends, but unfortunately, mostly the first view.
    Al Godar

  8. That's the problem, isn't it...always taking up the quarrel? Endless war and poppy fields grow forever.
    Thank you...

  9. I read that this poem was written for a close friend of the poets who died in WWI. The second stanza is so touching AND a wake-up call of sorts:

    "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."

    Thank you for sharing this:)

  10. Many thansk for your thoughtful and kind comments.

    To me the key to the peace you mentioned Reya and that is so necessary is in the last stanza:

    '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.'

    I have never seen that verse as a continuation of armed struggle but as a sign of changing the nature of war and turn it into something else. He says 'torch' not rifle, not gun, not pistol. I don't think his intention was to condone killing but to condemn war.

    Fram, as an atheist, I have to admit that that poem was hard to swallow. To me Mother Nature is the source of all life as we know it and I am a firm believe in evolution, so when I look at a tree, I am looking at nature, the artist, the sculptor, doing what it does best, creating.

    Polly, Remarque's 'All Quiet on the Front' (I think that's the title) is one of hte most poignant books I have ever read in my life and as it was such a long time ago I believe it is due for a re-read. The book you mention has been added to my reading list.

    Al, poetry can only support what the poet does. And there are many cases of poets who have opposed war in all its forms. War is horrible, but sometimes necessary. I would have fought in the trenches in WWI and WWII had I had the chance to do so, I would take the first plane back to Cuba if I felt my country of birth was seriously threatened. But war can also be a toy in the hands of politicians. Just look at Iraq for a clear example.

    Many thanks to you all for your comments.

    Greetings from London.

  11. Bonjour from Paris! Such a bittersweet poem. I shall soon be going to Flanders Field, to see it for myself.

  12. I believe Remarque's book is "All Quiet on the Western Front", also made into a great classic movie, as was "Arch du Triumphe".

  13. Hello, Paris. Welcome back!

    Yes, Lyn, that was the title, 'All Quiet on the Western Front'. In Spanish, 'Sin Novedad en el Frente', that's why I omitted the 'Western'. Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  14. Dear Mr. Cuban,
    Happy Easter to you and your Family!

    This is my contribution to your beautiful post, from A. Rimbaud:
    “I shall not speak, I shall think about nothing:
    But endless love will mount in my soul;
    And I shall travel far, very far, like a gipsy,
    Through the countryside - as happy as if I were with a woman”

  15. This is such a poignant poem. And hauntingly apropos for today. Peace to you this Good Friday, Mr. Cuban. Hope you and yours enjoy the Easter weekend.

  16. Nathalie, thanks for your contribution. It was much appreciated.

    Many thanks, Willow, for your kind comment. I am having a splendid time.

    Greetings from London

  17. CiL .... I returned to mention that we are cousins in the sense that I have been an agnostic since my very early teens. I do, however, sometimes split my cards and by that means hedge my bets. I do not suppose that would work too well in this instance, though.

    I adore those who are genuinely religious and respect those who stand on their own ground.

    In this instance, Joyce Kilmer's poem was the first thing to come into my mind because of the World War I connection to Flanders fields. Always interesting how one's mind works.

  18. I came back to “explain” myself: I called your post beautiful whereas others saw sadness….
    I saw the poppies blooming and “sunset glow”…. I thought of reconciliation and peace and that was beautiful….

  19. P.S. I'm getting off track, but I noticed in your profile that "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" is one of your favorite reads. Mine, too. Great taste we have!

    Have a Happy Easter, and Greetings from New York.

  20. A wonderful poem and intense photos- it is poppy season here now ...
    Happy Easter to you and your family!!

  21. Many thanks to you all, for your kind comments.

    Fram, no sweat, man.

    Nats, I adored your contribution.

    Every photo, I love Kundera. Maybe not 'Slowness', but all the others I have read, yes.

    dancing, likewise.

    Greetings from London.

  22. Thank you! I always wondered where that came from because it pops into my mind at times. I only knew the first two lines by memory, but it is a phenomenal poem

  23. La guerra es siempre terrible, pero cuando fuerza a sus actores a ser testigo de la muerte, lo es aun más.

  24. Many thanks, chocobo for your lovely comment.

    Asere, ya, lo dijiste todo, mi herma.

    Greetings from London.

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