I am breaking from my usual Burns reading this week, 100 years on from the end of the First World War. I thought it appropriate to mark the occasion with a reading of one of the most famous poems relating to that terrible conflict. The adoption of the poppy as the symbol of remembrance was inspired by these words. Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD was a Canadian poet, physician, author, artist and soldier. He served as a military surgeon at Ypres in Belgium during the War. He penned these words following the death of a friend in 1915. Sadly, he died of pneumonia near the end of the war.
“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.”