In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; in land and 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 the 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
Author John McCrae
Significance of the words in the poem
"In Flanders Fields" was written by Canadian doctor John McCrae on May 13, 1915. As dawn crept over the eastern sky, John watched the horrific scenes of a battle unfold. Men were dying by the hundreds.
John noticed that though the guns barked and men screamed, the larks were still flying overhead, singing bravely. He looked across Flanders fields and noticed the field was thick with scarlet poppies. John quickly penned the poem.
John's poem holds many images of battle. The red poppies symbolizes the blood that was shed. The crosses tell of the sacrifice given by the soldiers. The larks singing amidst the roaring of the guns give us contrast. Dawn and sunset represent life and death.
John's poem sails across our imaginations, creating realistic images that we can relate to. A great tribute to all those who gave their lives.
"In Flanders Fields" was published in Punch, a British newspaper, on December 8, 1915. Today, it is used in celebrations of remembrance all over the world.
An interesting fact about this poem is that John threw it away. A friend of his picked it up and submitted it to publishers.
Flanders was named after the farmer who owned the fields where the soldiers were fighting. His name was Flanders. There were no poppies there until the tanks churned up the soil. This is how poppies are germinated - by churning up the soil.
McCrae House, the home of John McCrae, located in Guelph, Ontario, is now a museum. Click on the link to visit the website.
Wear a poppy on November 11th. Shake the hand of a veteran and thank him/her for their sacrifice. For without their sacrifice we would not live in freedom.
God Bless all veterans and the deployed soldiers who are fighting today.
For more information on the 90th Anniversary of the end of WWI, be sure to visit Ruth at Body, Soul and Spirit.