Thursday 11 November 2010

On the eleventh hour....

...of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. In 1918, at this time, the guns of the Western Front fell silent for the first time in four years. 

 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.

John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

After reading this poem an American, Moira Michael, wrote another poem, We Shall Keep the Faith, which is credited with starting the tradition of wearing a poppy.

Oh! You who sleep in Flanders’ fields,
Sleep sweet – to rise anew;
We caught the torch you threw;
And holding high we kept
The faith with those who died.
We cherish, too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valour led.
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders’ Fields.
And now the torch and poppy red
Wear in honour of our dead
Fear not that ye have died for naught
We’ve learned the lesson that ye taught
In Flanders’ Fields.

The history of the poppy.
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  1. Beautiful photo and, of course, I can never read that poem without crying. My son, an Air Force reservist did four months active duty in Germany just recently and, while there, he got to take a few days leave and went to Normandy. He said it was a very moving experience for him. Right now, he's with his squadron for two weeks active duty in Honolulu.

    I got home from the hospital on Tue...not up to par yet and, for 30 days, have to maintain this horrible restrictive diet. No fun Thanksgiving eating for me.

    You might get a kick out of the poem I wrote today about hospitals.

  2. What a beautiful card, especially with those turbulent skies.

  3. Yes a beautiful card and the poems are always touching.

  4. Beautiful card. I've always loved this poem, as well as "All Quiet on the Western Front."

  5. I had not come across We Shall Keep The Faith. I am putting a link to this post on our writers website.

  6. Thank you for this: I'm pleased to learn about the Moira Michael poem. For more on the theme, you might care to click here to visit our Writelink posts.


    finally got myself set up with a blog for my
    postcards and stamps. I hope we can
    exchange some postcards.
    send me your address.

    best wishes

    this postcard is very pretty

  8. A wonderful picture and wonderful poems.

    I had heard when I was young (from a veteran of WWI, who was selling silk poppies to wear in one's button hole on Nov 11, as was the custom in America then), that the poppy was a reminder of the painful sacrifice of the horribly wounded of that war, with many amputations and surgeries, and the poppy was the source of the opium/morphine they were given for their pain. I'm not sure I believe that anymore, though the old man seemed to believe it, because not all varieties of poppy produce opium.

  9. Very appropriate card for Remembrance Day.

    I wrote a post for Armistice Day on my blog about my great uncle and a Polish airman buried in my local cemetery


  10. @Carmen, yes, the battlefields in Normandy are well worth a visit.
    @Christine, it's one I bought and haven't been able to part with it yet. :)
    @Odie, thanks.
    @Sally, I love that too.
    @Bob and Christine, too, thanks for the link.
    @Ria, you've moved?
    @Max, I'm not sure that could be the origin, no, but I like the story. It gives another dimension.


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