The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

In Flanders Field

by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

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.


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  1. Peter VE

    “and the band played Waltzing Matilda…”

  2. foolserrand

    IN fifty years, when peace outshines
    Remembrance of the battle lines,
    Adventurous lads will sigh and cast
    Proud looks upon the plundered past.
    On summer morn or winter’s night,
    Their hearts will kindle for the fight,
    Reading a snatch of soldier-song,
    Savage and jaunty, fierce and strong;
    And through the angry marching rhymes
    Of blind regret and haggard mirth,
    They’ll envy us the dazzling times
    When sacrifice absolved our earth.

    Some ancient man with silver locks
    Will lift his weary face to say:
    ‘War was a fiend who stopped our clocks
    Although we met him grim and gay.’
    And then he’ll speak of Haig’s last drive,
    Marvelling that any came alive
    Out of the shambles that men built
    And smashed, to cleanse the world of guilt.
    But the boys, with grin and sidelong glance,
    Will think, ‘Poor grandad’s day is done.’
    And dream of lads who fought in France
    And lived in time to share the fun.

    -Siegfried Sassoon

  3. anon2525

    What would Dr. McCrae write today? Would he be a soldier or a member of Doctors Without Borders?

    We have these memorials to military men (primarily) who were killed or wounded, but no acknowledgement, much less memorial, of the number of unarmed civilians, primarily children and women, who are killed by modern wars. If military men want to be remembered for their sacrifice, then it should be a sacrifice, not a slaughter — take your battles to battlefields, away from the civilian population.

  4. nihil obstet

    In Flanders Fields is one of the most moving poems around. It’s disturbing, and not in a good way, that the waste of sweet life is presented as a reason to keep fighting. It’s the whole “so that they will not have died in vain” argument, a refusal to recognize that early death is always in vain.

    However, given the glorification of the military in our times, it’s encouraging that Armistice Day is remembered so that even subliminally it can recall the hope of ending wars.

  5. i hate poetry.

    this is one of the few i love. nice post, Ian.

  6. “…They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
    Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
    At the going down of the sun and in the morning
    We will remember them.

    They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
    They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
    They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
    They sleep beyond England’s foam.

    But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
    Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
    To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
    As the stars are known to the Night;

    As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
    Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
    As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
    To the end, to the end, they remain.”

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