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Old 11-11-2011, 02:01 AM   #1
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Default In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

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.

---------- Post added 11-11-2011 at 12:01 AM ---------- Previous post was 11-10-2011 at 11:56 PM ----------

http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/flanders.htm

McCrae's "In Flanders Fields" remains to this day one of the most memorable war poems ever written. It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battle in the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915. Here is the story of the making of that poem:

Although he had been a doctor for years and had served in the South African War, it was impossible to get used to the suffering, the screams, and the blood here, and Major John McCrae had seen and heard enough in his dressing station to last him a lifetime.

As a surgeon attached to the 1st Field Artillery Brigade, Major McCrae, who had joined the McGill faculty in 1900 after graduating from the University of Toronto, had spent seventeen days treating injured men -- Canadians, British, Indians, French, and Germans -- in the Ypres salient.

It had been an ordeal that he had hardly thought possible. McCrae later wrote of it:

"I wish I could embody on paper some of the varied sensations of that seventeen days... Seventeen days of Hades! At the end of the first day if anyone had told us we had to spend seventeen days there, we would have folded our hands and said it could not have been done."

One death particularly affected McCrae. A young friend and former student, Lieut. Alexis Helmer of Ottawa, had been killed by a shell burst on 2 May 1915. Lieutenant Helmer was buried later that day in the little cemetery outside McCrae's dressing station, and McCrae had performed the funeral ceremony in the absence of the chaplain.

The next day, sitting on the back of an ambulance parked near the dressing station beside the Canal de l'Yser, just a few hundred yards north of Ypres, McCrae vented his anguish by composing a poem. The major was no stranger to writing, having authored several medical texts besides dabbling in poetry.

In the nearby cemetery, McCrae could see the wild poppies that sprang up in the ditches in that part of Europe, and he spent twenty minutes of precious rest time scribbling fifteen lines of verse in a notebook.

A young soldier watched him write it. Cyril Allinson, a twenty-two year old sergeant-major, was delivering mail that day when he spotted McCrae. The major looked up as Allinson approached, then went on writing while the sergeant-major stood there quietly. "His face was very tired but calm as we wrote," Allinson recalled. "He looked around from time to time, his eyes straying to Helmer's grave."

When McCrae finished five minutes later, he took his mail from Allinson and, without saying a word, handed his pad to the young NCO. Allinson was moved by what he read:

"The poem was exactly an exact description of the scene in front of us both. He used the word blow in that line because the poppies actually were being blown that morning by a gentle east wind. It never occurred to me at that time that it would ever be published. It seemed to me just an exact description of the scene."

In fact, it was very nearly not published. Dissatisfied with it, McCrae tossed the poem away, but a fellow officer retrieved it and sent it to newspapers in England. The Spectator, in London, rejected it, but Punch published it on 8 December 1915.

Thanks to Mack Welford for reminding me of this great poem.

Updated: 12 November 2008 Updated: 9 November 2009
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Old 11-11-2011, 05:21 AM   #2
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Default Re: In Flanders Fields

Thanks for posting that Dad, i actually just asked Muskie on the other thread if they wear poppys on remembrance Day. Do you guys wear them too?
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Old 11-11-2011, 07:35 AM   #3
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Default Re: In Flanders Fields

Dad, my grandfather was in the Ypres salient when that was written. My son read that poem at the school assembly last year. The copy of it my son read is on my fridge under a magnet still.
Yes JM we wear poppies here too. Proudly.
Today we will hear "The Last Post", a piece of music that brings tears, as we stand for two minutes of silence at 11 am.
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Old 11-11-2011, 10:28 AM   #4
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Default Re: In Flanders Fields

Poppies are important here too. In Britain they also wear Poppies. I'll bet the Aussies and Kiwis too.
I have had the honor to serve along side representatives of Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and even a few Canadians too.
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Old 11-11-2011, 12:10 PM   #5
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Default Re: In Flanders Fields

Muskie we have a 2 mins silence here at 11am too.
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Old 11-11-2011, 12:13 PM   #6
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Default Re: In Flanders Fields

2 min of silence here as well. A time to remember and be thankful...
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Old 11-11-2011, 02:26 PM   #7
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Default Re: In Flanders Fields

I am heading out at 1PM to the Grade School for the Vet's day Program. Kids always do a great job!
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Old 11-11-2011, 05:04 PM   #8
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Default Re: In Flanders Fields

Dad, I had the radio on at work, and they read that poem coupled with "the last post". I don't think anything could be more moving. Watched a documentary called "Digging up the Trenches" with historian Peter Barton. Amazing archaeological dig into the mud of Flanders, right there at the Ypres salient. Right there for the first gas attack. Amazing. And when I saw it, saw archival film, and they explained trench life etc.....it made it so real, so awful. And I thought, my grandfather stood there too. Funny though, Ypres was always pronounced "wipers" by he and his army buddies. I still call it that myself!
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Old 12-24-2011, 10:15 PM   #9
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Default Re: In Flanders Fields

There is an excellent Peanuts video called, "What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown?" where they read In Flanders Fields at the end. It is very moving. I tear up every time. One of my favorite poems. Here is another one:

Kid Stuff

The wise guys
tell me
that Christmas
is Kid Stuff...
Maybe they've got
something there --

Two thousand years ago
three wise guys
chased a star
across a continent
to bring
frankincense and myrrh
to a Kid
born in a manger
with an idea in his head...

And as the bombs
crash
all over the world
today
the real wise guys
know
that we've all
got to go chasing stars
again
in the hope
that we can get back
some of that
Kid Stuff
born two thousand years ago --

Frank Horne
December, 1942

Merry Christmas!
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