Poppies in prose
The poems and the stories that gave a flower new symbolic life
November 6, 2019
On May 2 in 1915, Canadian poet John McCrae’s close friend and former student Alexis Helmer was killed by a German shell in World War I.
Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915 during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium, this poem became the basis for poppies being the flower symbolically used to honor the war dead.
In Flanders Fields
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,