The Poppies “In Flanders Field”

poppy-50590_960_720Today, we observe (celebrate; recognize) Memorial Day, a federal (national) holiday to remember those who died while serving (working) in the military (a country’s fighting forces). It seems fitting (appropriate) to talk about one of the most famous poems of the 20th century (1900s).

After World War I, poppies (see photo) became associated with the fallen (dead) soldiers of war. This was mainly due to a poem called “In Flander’s Field.”

In 1915, after presiding over (being in charge of and saying words at) the funeral (ceremony to bury the dead) of his friend and fellow soldier, a Canadian doctor named John McCrae wrote the poem “In Flanders Field.” The term “Flander’s Field” was used by the English to refer to the area between East and West Flanders in Belgium where some of the biggest battles (fights within a war) were fought during World War I at Ypres.

The poem was first published in December 1915 in the popular English magazine Punch and uses the imagery (description of things we see) of poppies growing between graves (marked places where the dead are buried) to remind us of the people who sacrificed (gave up; surrendered) their lives in war.

In Flanders Field
by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark (indicate) our place; and in the sky
The larks (small songbirds), still bravely singing, fly
Scarce (seldom; not often) heard amid (among) the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn (when the sun rises), saw sunset (when the sun sets) glow (give off light),
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel (argument; fight) with the foe (enemy):
To you from failing (weakening; dying) hands we throw
The torch* (a stick with fire burning at the end); be yours to hold it high.
If ye (you) break faith (are disloyal; fail to support and give help) with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

* “To pass the torch” means to transfer the duty or responsibility to someone else, so McCrae is talking about passing the responsibility of fighting and defeating the enemy to other soldiers.

The poem became very popular during the war and is still considered one of the most famous poems of that era (period in history). Inspired by the poem, the American Legion, an organization of former soldiers formed in 1919, used the poppy as a symbol to remember those who died in World War I. This was adopted (taken and used) by other military groups in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Today, in the U.S., poppies don’t have a strong association with those who died in war, as it does in the U.K. and other countries. However, this poem is still well known and studied in some schools.

How are the fallen soldiers remembered where you live?

~ Lucy

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32 Responses to The Poppies “In Flanders Field”

  1. emiliano says:

    Dear Lucy, the poem is sublime and could be a little present to all the brave soldiers who were killed
    fighting against the worst ideas ever have been here in Europe or all over the world.
    There is something I admire of you, and other countries, the respect you have to your flag, your
    fallen soldiers, your hymn and homeland.

    Fallen soldiers are not so good remembered here in Spain, just a pity but it is so.
    Have in mind we had a civil ward that still is in mind of several people that can´t forget or forgive
    the oposite site.

    After that scarcely Spain has participate in other wars so sodiers are like aside of Spanish life.
    Even if you come here it is odd to see a flag in spanish houses, it seems you could be very
    at the right side, so better not provocate havin Spanish flag inside home or outside.

    Sad but true.

    My best to you dear Lucy.


  2. emiliano says:

    By the way Poppies are the nicest flower to Cuca´s taste and even to me they are.

    Spanish fields are full of them in May and it is really beautiful.


  3. Dan says:

    Hello Lucy.

    Thank you for this unexpected post. For a moment I thought it was Tuesday.
    In Italy different cities do different ceremonies that usually end up with the mayor laying down flower.
    I believe we have various American cemeteries scattered around the nation. One for sure is in Florence.
    Italians love Americans which is our most important ally, and we are grateful for their help to our freedom.
    Next 2nd of July we celebrate our republic born in 1946 tanks also to the help of those young Americans.


  4. Tania says:

    Poppies…nice flowers, but once broken they die immediately like the life of an wounded soldier on the battle field.
    In Flanders Field by John McCrae, the soldiers who sacrificed their lives in war are the poppies between their crosses.
    Thank you for this poem that I have not known it.
    I have a special feeling up to the cry remembering those who died while serving in the military.
    In my country, we bring our homage to Romanian soldiers who died for our country (now and in missions abroad)
    on 9th of May .
    Our celebration has a triple meaning: the country’s Independence Day (1877), the WWII Allies’ victory against
    Nazi Germany (1945) and Europe Day(1950).

  5. Elham says:

    it is the same in my country, Iran.
    the poppies are associated with martyrs (any person or soldier who dies for the sake of his people and his country in front of enemies).
    it is believed, too, that poppy shows the love which wants to sacrifice its life to love ones. it is a symbol of short life.

    Thanks’ Lucy
    the post is very interesting specially the poem.

  6. emiliano says:

    I would like to have here in Spain a Memorial Day being a National Feast like it is
    in the EE.UU., but I really think it has to be nearly impossible.



  7. Tania says:

    Even our national flag is a tricolor with vertical stripes: blue (sky-blue), yellow ( corn fields), red ( red blood of our
    died soldiers for our country).
    Almost in every village or town we have Romanian Military Heroes Monuments where flowers are laid on May 9.
    In big cities, flowers are laid at the Military Heroes Monuments, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,
    the WWII Heroes Monuments, following of a military parade with military fanfare.
    We have very nice patriotic songs for our military heroes.

    “Lay on their graves
    Only tears and flowers
    To be more sweet/smooth the sleep
    Of our happy heroes.”

  8. Tania says:

    I was wondering why Jeff has not written us about presidential elections.
    But we have to read the article “So you want to move to Canada, eh?”.
    A very, very good joke.
    “If Trump wins I’m leaving the country.
    If Hillary wins I’m leaving the country.
    This is not a political post. I just want to travel.” A whisper.

  9. Tania says:

    Reading the article “Why adults coloring books are the latest trend” in the Washington Post
    I have understood that it was a way of healing, a way to manage the effects of physical
    illness, stress.
    Coloring books work like other mindfulness techniques such as yoga and meditation, says a clinical psychologist.
    “By selecting colors and working with design, I find that I can lose myself in ways that are healing and creative.”

  10. Mari Carmen says:


    Dear Tania. If I am not wrong, you have recently written one post saying that you were going to try a toast with avocado on it. I was thinking you would like to see another option to try this not much sweet and watery fruit. My mother would make a type of salad called seafood-cocktail, and here is her recipe.

    It is made out of lettuce, crab sticks, boiled (or fresh-defrozen prawns quickly fried with four drops of olive oil and a pinch of garlic), apple, and pineapple, which is optional. And, of course, avocado.
    For the pink sauce you need to mix mayonnaise sauce, ketchup sauce and orange juice (the proportion would be four soup spoonfuls/one spoonful/half an orange juice).
    You only have to mix the ingredients, put them in individual containers like bowls or big glasses.
    As for the quantities, combine them for its colors,so its sight is not too green or not too white neither pink for the seafood.
    Finally, put the sauce on it and mix them all before eating.

    I think that it is an easy, fresh,pleasant and not expensive way of eating avocado. If you will, why not trying to prepare it?

    Thank you very much, bye

    P.S. Maybe if you are allergic to prawns it is also tasty with chopped grilled chicken. Vegetarians can also enjoy it.

  11. Roberto says:

    Hello everyone

    As Emiliano has said, we don’t have a specific day in Spain to honor our deads. Maybe the Civil War is very closed to us…
    Sometimes, I feel jealous of French people and the way they honor their dead soldiers, their cemeteries in every little village
    of France with its monument and national flag, so it is easy for them to remember they fallen in war and to be proud of them.

    In my opinion, we have a lot of thing to learn from our neighbor country and one of them is the respect for the symbols
    and history of his country.

    By the way, I have been to Flanders visiting the Flanders Fields Museum and it is amazing. The museum is located in the city
    of Ypres (Belgium) and I recommend it to you. There, you can discover The Menin Gate Memorial where you can watch the names
    of more than 50.000 soldiers from United Kingdon and Commomwealth dead and missing in Ypres battlefield. But I specially
    remember the Flanders cemeteries: thousands and thousands of white tombs for French/British soldiers with the inscription:
    “A soldier from the Great War”. However, the experience is different in one of the German cemeteries. In Lanemark, a German
    cemetery in Flanders, the tombs are simple grave markers in black and you really can fell the death and the
    consequences of the war.

    The poem “In Flanders Field” is sublime!


  12. Tania says:

    Dear Roberto, very nice thoughts about soldiers died in war.
    Thank you,


  13. Tania says:

    Dear Mari Carmen, thank you for reading my posts. Thank you for your recipe.
    I have to recognize that in my country we do not use to eat seafood, sea fruits, seafood soup, octopus, prawn or crab.
    We can find this new type of food at the supermarket. It is very expensive.
    But in the cool restaurants of the riches, yes, it’s the new trend.
    It’s a thing, like Jeff told us.

    Best wishes,


  14. jetlee says:

    Thanks Lucy for this meaningful post for the month of June. In my country, June is also marked by people remembering fallen soldiers in wars. Thus, this post made me think of them again.

    By the way, I have one question about the meaning of the sentence

    “in the U.S., poppies don’t have a strong association with those who died in war, as it does in the U.K. and other countries.”

    Does it mean both in the U.S. and others, poppies don’t have a strong association? Or, it means unlike the U.S., other countries still associate poppies with fallen soldiers?

  15. Tania says:


    Poppies In July by SYLVIA PLATH

    Little poppies, little hell flames,
    Do you do no harm?

    You flicker. I cannot touch you.
    I put my hands among the flames. Nothing burns.

  16. Tania says:


    Poppies In October by SYLVIA PLATH

    Even the sun-clouds this morning cannot manage …
    A gift, a love gift
    Utterly unasked for
    By a sky.

  17. Tania says:

    Thank you for revealing us this wonderful poet, Sylvia Plath, unknown to me, in English Cafe 557.

    Best wishes,


  18. Dan says:

    Can I try to answer Jetlee’s doubts?

    Hi Jet. this is Dan, let me try an answer…

    I used to watch BBC, back when I still watched TV. Now I do not do that anymore.
    Well, I did notice that on Memorial day in the UK they wear a poppy while in the US, to my knowledge it’s not done.

    If you Google “poppy memorial” or “Blood-Swept Lands” you’ll find out that in
    the UK they even had a piece of art displaying almost one million poppies made out of ceramic each one remembering a British soldier.

    As a conclusion, I would say that poppies is more of a British thing.

    Thanks, bye.

  19. Peter says:

    Hey Lucy , and helo world

    We do the poppy thingy too ,in rememberence day.
    So , please always take my words with a grain of salt. I admittedly am not a resourceful person. If anything , I m a lazy pants who prefers lying around the house all day long watching sports center. Speaking of which , you know ” Euro 2016″ is coming up. I m pretty psyched about it. There is this TV cable channel assigned to it that broadcast all the maybes there are in real time woth commentator and everything. Typically ,there is a round table analysis of the games by soccer pundits ,I would like to call them , right after each game is done. I never miss that too. Well , the truth is , I m a die hard fan if football. But soccer gives me the adrenaline rush too. Yup , you guessed right!! I m an adrenalin junkey but indoorsy not outdoorsy.
    Boy , I swerved off the track big time here.
    Back to the topic at hand :
    “Remembrance day”
    Well, it is the Canadian version of it.
    U know , as far as I know , the poppy is a symbole representing Canadian soldiers.
    There is still a strong association with the day and the red poppie representing the day in Canada.
    Most people , specially seniors start wearing poppies one week before ” rememberence day.”
    There is always some sort of parliamentary ceremony of some sorts in the Capitol Hill in Ottawa commemoration the soldiers who died that day.
    Those who Put their lives on the line for a greater good.

    I never wear poppies but I see people buying and wearing them for one week or so.
    U know , typically teenagers in military uniforms of the time selling them to people on the Subways and sometimes on the streets. There is no specific price tag to it. Seens like the amount u pay is arbitrary and the proceeds goes toward some humanitarian efforts.

    Well ,I better shove off before I start embarrassing myself. What is m trying to say here is
    That is the extend of my knowledge on the subject , I better leave before stop making any sense.

    A learning guide member


  20. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Thanks everyone for the comments. I don’t know much about poppies because we don’t have poppies in Brazil but nevertheless it is useful to know about good things.
    From Brazil, honey and milk, blue sky, blue ocean, green forests, no sin, friendly people

  21. jetlee says:

    Hi Dan, good to meet you. And thank you for your nice opinion.

    As you recommended, I Googled poppy things and recognized what you meant, another thing I newly get to know.

    In my country, the weather gets hot and hot.

    What about your country?


  22. Dan says:

    How are you doing everybody.

    Dan here.

    I was thinking that poem contains two important messages.
    First, freedom does not come cheap. You have to pay something for it.
    Second, after you got it, you have to make sure nobody is goin to take that freedom from you.
    As the poem goes: “To you from failing hands we throw the torch be yours to hold it high.”

    That’s why I like to follow people like Milo Yannopolous that is currently touring California’s colleges fighting for freedom of speech.

    That sounds crazy that anyone would be doing that in 2016 and in the supposed to be land of freedoms…..but believe me,…to my horror there are people that do not want freedom of speech and different points of view…that’s scary.

    Anyway, the man is super funny check him out on YouTube.
    If you do not know him already, I would suggest one of the latest video posted titled Milo Yannopoulos at University of California Irvine.


  23. Dan says:

    Hello me again..

    Hi Jetlee! Don’t forget to mention your country when writing a comment.
    I live in Italy which as you can see has the shape of a long boot stretching
    from Northwest to Southeast, so the weather changes from region to region.
    I live in the northwest part of the country and here we get lot of water during this season.
    And right now it’s raining on and off for the last month.
    Because of that it’s getting warm and humid the kind of conditions you would find in places like Florida.
    In the south is usually more hot and dry.

    Hahahaha..I do not know why but as I start thinking your name, my brain starts with Jet and then fuel. That’s because I have heard that word so much.


  24. Dan says:

    Hey Aecio.

    Lol…I am writing on my phone and as I type your name the automatic correction system change your name into Awful.

    But that’s not want I wanted to say….
    Is that you always mention all these undeniable beautiful qualities Brazil has
    but you forget to add the thing Brazil is most famous for around the globe, and that is those huge sculptured backsides of those beautiful women there…Hahahaha.


  25. Dan says:

    Sorry me again..not my’s Peter’s.

    I am doing the same as you Pete.
    The difference is that I am on YouTube.
    Right now, I am watching all the different versions of the song America F#^* Yeah..
    The GTA’s versions are hilarious..
    Love e the song btw.


  26. emiliano says:

    Roberto, it is just what I feel and think when I have read your note.

    Thanks a lot for your perfect words and good English.


  27. Mari Carmen says:

    Hello everyone

    Reading about the tradition of buying poppies to commemorate dead soldiers in war, I find it quite surprising since I’ve always considered these flowers wild. I don’t know if the adjective is correct in this context, I mean a flower that is not farmed but it grows spontaneously.

    In fact, I remember a Spanish colloquial expression or idiom that compares poppies to rural life, more or less, which is: “eres más de campo que las amapolas”.

    It is quite interesting how behaviors, ways of doing, change in different parts of the world.

    Thanks, bye

  28. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    You’re right, Dan. Brazilian women are gorgeous, but no use to say that because everyone can see it on TV. I am a lucky man living in this beautiful country. Come and check for yourself.
    From Brazil

  29. Mari Carmen says:

    Hi again,

    I forgot to mention that the phrase I brought might be a little old-fashioned but it is not necessarily pejorative.


    P.S. Just one more comment, this time related to this CAPTCHA Code: I love it.

  30. Dan says:

    Hi Lucy.

    Recently the European commission and the four major IT companies in the world (Microsoft Twitter Google Facebook) agreed on policing what they call
    “Hate speech”…
    It goes without saying that under that label you can put whatever you like because it’s not well defined.

    That I think it’s like spitting in the face of those who died for us to have that freedom of speech. In my opinion.

    I think that with such regulations/legislation we are heading to the wrong direction.

    I just wanted to let those that didn’t know about this aware of way is goin on.

    And then they wonder why the Brits.want to leave!…we’ll see.


  31. Dan says:


    Nevermind…sadly I have just find out that they already had a similar law
    restricting free speech in Britain.
    Wow..that’s crazy.
    I am starting to get envious of the US first and second amendment.


  32. Nele says:

    In my country you light candles in memory of the death and the fallen of the wars. At the graves or also at home a candle is placed in one window or in front of the door – in memory of those who no longer come home. Mostly in the time of November and December.

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