Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

The Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red is the title of the sea of ceramic poppies in the moat of the Tower of London.  It comes from a poem written by an anonymous soldier in the Great War, which ends:

I put my hand up and see the land of red,
This is my time to go over,
I may not come back
So sleep, kiss the boys for me

Today is Armistice Day and we went to see the poppies at the Tower of London.  It was a moving display and once again brought home how the poppy has endured as a symbol for war dead, particularly those who perished on the Western Front.

Poppies grow naturally in conditions of disturbed earth and were seen in large numbers on the battlefields of the Napoleonic Wars, and then a century later in the Great War.  The Canadian surgeon John McCrae wrote the famous poem, "In Flanders Fields", which linked the battlefield poppies to the graves of the fallen.

If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields