Famous poem provides imagery for generations not familiar with war

Thanks to a reader who contributed a page for this blog from the Dec. 8, 1915 edition of Punch, which was a weekly British magazine. On the bottom right, you can see John McCrae’s famous poem, In Flanders Field.

We had to memorize it in school. Did you?

One of my children came home this week and told us they were discussing it in class. I was happy to hear of it. I doubt they will be asked to memorize it though.

I picked up a kids’ book at LPL called In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem by John McCrae for my own children to look at. It’s by Linda Granfield and illustrated by Janet Wilson.

The book says McCrae, a medical officer, expected to die. He said attending to all the wounded and dying on the battlefield was “Hell all the time.”

He witnessed the death of his friend, Lieut. Alexis Helmer, and shortly after wrote the moving poem.

A reader says the poem “went viral” –┬áhand-to-hand, home to battlefield, and the media using its lines regularly.

McCrae managed to take his emotions and turn them into a poignant poem to salute his fallen comrades.

For those of us who have never witnessed war or even the countryside where the battles were waged, this poem fills our mind with pictures.

I hope you’ll take the chance to read it again as We Remember.

I’ve copied it below.

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