Journal For Poetry Challenge#7 08,01,2012

Journal For Poetry Challenge#7 08,01,2012  week 2

Poppy photographed on the First World War battlefield of the Somme near the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.

by John McCrae, May 1915

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.

Flanders Poppy on the First World War battlefields.

Inspiration for “In Flanders Fields”

Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, 1st Brigade Canadian Field Artillery. (1)
Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, 1st Brigade Canadian Field Artillery (source: A Crown of Life)

During the early days of the Second Battle of Ypres a young Canadian artillery officer, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, was killed on 2nd May, 1915 in the gun positions near Ypres. He was a  friend  of commander Major John McCrae .

John McCrae was a field Dr in  the same unit as his friend Alexis. For some reason the Chaplin was called away and so John was asked to take the  funeral service for his friend. It is thought that in the evening after the funeral he wrote his most famous poem. In Flanders field.


The Poem is so sad, it speaks of how so many young men died, cruel and painful deaths on the muddy fields and squalid trenches of Ypres. He talks about the larks bravely singing, as I see it he is alluding to the fact that life just goes on as this evil war raged. “The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.”

They died so quickly without warning, though  better that than maimed and dying slowly in agony. They were young, they had lovers, family and then they were gone so suddenly. I think they hung around for a while as ghosts trying to adjust to death.

The dead, he tells us, implore those who follow them to take up the torch and fight the enemy to the end. For if they loose or shirk the challenge the dead will never rest and forever haunt the poppy fields of Flanders.


Just a thought crosses my mind. What would those dead  men buried under Flanders field made of the tanks and foot soldiers of the 2nd world war. The young men of the 1st world war thought they were fighting the war to end all wars…………. Sadly they were wrong.


Poetry Challenge #7 is to create a journal of links and your reactions to poems by established (living or dead poets.) Details are here.  Example response is here. Mr. Linky for Challenge #7 is directly below:

15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. catcherofstars
    Jan 08, 2012 @ 23:51:50

    I love this poem, I had to recite it a few weeks ago in my English class.
    “The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below”.
    My favorite lines.
    Thanks for sharing!!


    • willowdot21
      Jan 09, 2012 @ 10:53:42

      Yes it made me weep I am so glad that I have chosen to spotlight the poems of this era. They really seem to “tell it like it was” so far. It is painfully sad, such a waste.


  2. willowdot21
    Jan 09, 2012 @ 10:57:58

    Thank you I feel honoured that you approve. You know what it is like to have an enemy up close and personal. I chose this era of poems of the 30s and 40s but I was not ready for the raw truth they tell. I am proud to be able to show them to people and slip in a little history to put them in perspective. I do hope you are well.


  3. willowdot21
    Jan 09, 2012 @ 11:06:13

    I am so proud that you approve of my choice. You have been in the military and you have more than likely have to deal with an enemy up close and personal.I am so glad I chose the poets of the 30s and 40s I am shocked by the depth of truth they tell. War is terrible and we must never forget so I try to put in some history with each poem to make them come alive to the reader. Last weeks poem was called “A rendezvous with death” The author Alan Seeger did die in the war……… such a sad waste. I hope you are well


  4. rumpydog
    Jan 09, 2012 @ 20:30:50

    I’ve heard this poem many times. It always makes me sad. A bit timely too, that last night I watched Downton Abbey as they face the realities of the war to end all wars.


    • willowdot21
      Jan 09, 2012 @ 21:28:40

      If only it had been the war to end all wars! Not only men died, but dogs, horses and even pigeons (messengers) not to mention all the animals who just got in the way. But the Humans… well the humans should of known better. Downton Abbey was brilliant wasn’t it. I hope you are having a good week!!


  5. Fahad Naeem
    Jan 09, 2012 @ 23:57:55

    Very very Nice willow.


  6. Trackback: Inspiration: The Wonder Of A Sunset… | Mirth and Motivation
  7. TanGental
    Jun 14, 2014 @ 14:11:41

    Thank you for the link. This is so powerful. Have you seen the famous 1919 cartoon about the Treaty of Versailles and cannon fodder for 1940? ‘ if you break faith with us who die…’


    • willowdot21
      Jun 14, 2014 @ 14:28:19

      So many terrible things were done during the wars not least generals using their own troops as cannon fodder and turning their own guns upon those who were too ill or too mentally disturbed to fight! ..dark days sad times… on reflection we have not moved on very far have we?


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