Wednesday, August 6, 2014

In Flanders Fields

It is now the centenary of World War One, the Great War, the war to end all wars.  Unfortunately the madness that we thought must stop never did, and we find ourselves once more at a dangerous crossroads as evidenced by the many tinder dry flashpoints that blight the fragile earth.

Did you see Kate’s brooding picture in the papers, surrounded by a sea of red poppies? Do you know the symbolism and significance of this flower?

It was taken from a poem written by a Canadian soldier, John McCrae.  And it goes like this:

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.

I recently bought myself a  pair of rather somber looking poppy earrings made of sterling silver, to remind myself of my own failings and human folly in general.  As they dangle from my earlobes on tenuous wires it feels vulnerable, and I imagine they could be torn from me by brute force at any moment with painful consequence. This I know must be a very poor approximation of what those poor boys went through, where too many of their lives were snatched violently away from them at the bloom of youth. May we never be swept up by such bloodlust again as we ponder Flanders fields.

In Flanders Fields...

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