'In Flanders Fields' Poem: What Inspired John McCrae to Write It?
Linkedin

'In Flanders Fields' Poem: What Inspired John McCrae to Write It?

Brussels : Belgium | Nov 11, 2011 at 7:37 AM PST
XX XX
Views: Pending
 
Poppy Pin

In Flanders Fields

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

Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915

during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium

The poem, as printed in In Flanders Fields and Other Poems

"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.[1] Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote it on 3 May 1915 (see 1915 in poetry), 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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Flanders_Fields

The account of the writing of the poem is well detailed in this story by Anthony Hutchcroft who tells the story behind the poem: http://www.flandersfieldsmusic.com/thepoem.html:

"On May 2, 1915, John McCrae’s close friend and former student Alexis Helmer was killed by a German shell. That evening, in the absence of a Chaplain, John McCrae recited from memory a few passages from the Church of England’s “Order of the Burial of the Dead”. For security reasons Helmer’s burial in Essex Farm Cemetery was performed in complete darkness.

The next day, May 3, 1915, Sergeant-Major Cyril Allinson was delivering mail. McCrae was sitting at the back of an ambulance parked near the dressing station beside the YserCanal, just a few hundred yards north of Ypres, Belgium.

As John McCrae was writing his In Flanders Fields poem, Allinson silently watched and later recalled, “His face was very tired but calm as he wrote. He looked around from time to time, his eyes straying to Helmer's grave."

Within moments, John McCrae had completed the “In Flanders Fields” poem and when he was done, without a word, McCrae took his mail and handed the poem to Allinson.

Allinson was deeply moved:

“The (Flanders Fields) poem was 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."

http://www.flandersfieldsmusic.com/thepoem.html

The world is still bearing witness to many thousands of people killed this year, 2011, due to wars of a myrid different kinds, fought on as many different fronts. From Libya to Somalia, Mexico to Syria, the sorrowful fact is that wars have become or in some cases they have actually always been a way of life for many across the globe. Israel and Palestine, for example. Imagine that....a millenia of waring against the same foe. How depressingly pointless it all must feel. How passe! The examples of democracy we witness around the world, though painfully flawed and tarnished, remain our best bravest hope for a world of equality, fairness and yes - peace - for all humankind!

Oppression and tyranny is still being fought against, just as our forefathers fought against it too. 'They gave up their tomorrows so we could have our todays', one memorable quote I saw on a Facebook feed read today.

On this day, Remembrance Day, we take a moment to remember... all those who have laid their lives down for the struggle for freedom and democracy, for those who have died to overthrow tyrants, and to give thought to those who still struggle and fight today. May the dead rest in peace and may the living endure all evils to see a future without strife where true freedom and democracy exist - for all. Lest we forget.

1 of 2
Next
In Flanders Fields
Famous poem by Canadian John McCrae
MichelleDevlin is based in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
Report Credibility
 
  • Clear
  • Share:
  • Share
  • Clear
  • Clear
  • Clear
  • Clear
 
 
 
Advertisement
 

News Stories

 
  • We Pause On Veterans Day To Reread 'In Flanders Fields'

      National Public Radio
    Before we move on to the day's news, serious and silly, we want to pause for a moment to note that it's Veterans Day. As President Obama's declaration states , on this day Americans "pay tribute to our veterans, to the fallen, and to their families."...
  • A Meditation on Remembrance Day

      Canadian Free Press
    It is a central part of the Human condition to wonder about what comes next when we finish the brief span of our lives.  Does some part of us linger?  Can we still connect with what we loved best?  Will we remember?  We don't know the answers to this...
  • U.K. bans poppy-burning extremist group

      United Press International
    Britain is banning Muslims against Crusades, an extremist group that caused widespread outrage when it burned replica poppies, an almost sacrosanct symbol of remembrance for war dead since the early 20th century. Burning poppies isn't illegal in...

Blogs

 >
  • In Flanders Fields

      asgard-studios.com
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow. In Flanders fields. By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915 during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium. Posted in Web Design Trends. Comments are closed. ...
  • 11.11.11 In Flanders Fields « AW1 Tim's Blog

      aw1tim.wordpress.com
    McCrae was sitting at the back of an ambulance parked near the dressing station beside the YserCanal, just a few hundred yards north of Ypres, Belgium. As John McCrae was writing his In Flanders Fields poem, Allinson silently watched and ...
  • TBC LONDON - Remembrance Day (11.11.11) – Loved and were ...

      www.tbcuk.net
    During the World War I, the Flanders plain, now located in parts of Netherlands, Belgium and France was a major battle field. Wild poppies sprang up in the Flanders region when the ... In Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from
  • Flanders Field – I will remember! | Sober Julie Doing Life

      www.soberjulie.com
    In April 1915 McCrae was stationed in the area known as Flanders (near Ypres, Belgium) and was responsible for a field dressing station at the front and treated those wounded during the Second Battle of Ypres. He not only served as a ...
  • In Flanders Fields the Poppies Grow | DoDLive

      www.dodlive.mil
    In Flanders fields.” McCrae tended to the first victims of a German chemical attack on the British line at the Belgian town of Ypres during World War I. The fields of Flanders, where some of the most horrific battles occurred, are now dotted with ...
  • Veterans Day Honors Service, Sacrifice | NC Operation Recovery

      www.ncoperationrecovery.org
    Scarce heard amid the guns below. We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie. In Flanders fields.” McCrae tended to the first victims of a German chemical attack on the British line at the Belgian town of Ypres ...

Images

 >
 

More From Allvoices

Report Your News Got a similar story?
Add it to the network!

Or add related content to this report



Use of this site is governed by our Terms of Use Agreement and Privacy Policy.

© Allvoices, Inc. 2008-2014. All rights reserved. Powered by PulsePoint.