In the commemorative years of the First World War, let’s take a 2 minutes silence to reflect on the extraordinary poetry created during this horrific period, 1914-1918.
It is 100 years today since the distinguished Canadian doctor & War poet’s poet John McCrae wrote ‘In Flanders Fields’ first appearing anonymously in the magazine ‘Punch’ in 1915.
These are perhaps some of the most famous & quoted lines of the whole war: eloquent, detached, evocative, uncluttered by personality & unfettered by individual experience. They were, ‘born of fire and blood during the hottest phase of the second battle of Ypes.’
He has left us a remarkable legacy; it makes you shudder & cry to read these words, the reality so striking and so vivid.
It is also interesting to note that in MaCrae’s autograph manuscript (above) he has misquoted his own poem changing ‘blow’ to ‘grow’, already the poem has a life of its own, belonging to us all.
‘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.’
This youthful, energetic, committed young man died in 1918, he was ‘so old, so worn, his face lined and grey, his expression chill, his actions slow and heavy.’ A little piece of him will live forever in the poetry he gave to us.