IN FLANDERS FIELDS POEM
The World’s Most Famous WAR MEMORIAL POEM
By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
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
Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915
during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium
May 2, 1915, John McCrae’s close friend and former student Alexis
Helmer was killed by a German shell. That evening, in the absence of
a Chaplain, John McCrae recited from memory a few passages from the
Church of England’s “Order of the Burial of the Dead”.
For security reasons Helmer’s burial in Essex Farm Cemetery was performed in complete darkness.
The next day, May 3, 1915, Sergeant-Major Cyril Allinson was delivering
mail. McCrae was sitting at the back of an ambulance parked near the
dressing station beside the YserCanal, just a few
hundred yards north of Ypres, Belgium.
As John McCrae was writing his In Flanders Fields poem, Allinson silently watched and later recalled, “His face was very tired but calm as he wrote. He looked around from time to time, his eyes straying to Helmer's grave."
Within moments, John McCrae had completed the “In Flanders Fields” poem and when he was done, without a word, McCrae took his mail and handed the poem to Allinson.
Allinson was deeply moved:
“The (Flanders Fields) poem was an exact description of the scene in front of us
both. He used the word blow in that line because the poppies actually
were being blown that morning by a gentle east wind. It never occurred
to me at that time that it would ever be published. It seemed to me
just an exact description of the scene."
- Photo © 2006-2009
- In Flanders Fields.ca
Contact the Author
Please Email Flanders Fields Music for more information about:
Flanders Fields Song
Flanders Fields Video
Flanders Fields Sheet Music
Flanders Fields Educational Kit – 6 Lesson Plans for Teachers
© 2009 Flanders Fields Music