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In Flanders Fields

On November 11, thousands of people in different countries recite this poem, the most famous poem from World War I, composed by Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae on 3 May 1915 after he witnessed the death of his friend, Alexis Helmer, 22 years old, the day before. He wrote it after coming back home from his friend's funeral.

NOTICE: This video takes an original photograph of the author and digitally makes it move as if he were speaking, so we can feel as if the author himself is speaking to us from the past and telling us not to forget.

The poppies mentioned in this poem finally turned this flower into an international symbol for Word War I remembrance. Here's why:

Flanders is the name of the whole western part of Belgium.it saw some of the most concentrated and bloodiest fights at the First World War. There was complete devastation. Buildings, roads, trees and natural life is simply disappeared. where once there were homes and farms there was now a sea of mud a grave for the dead were the men still live and fought. Only one other living thing survived and that was the poppy, flowering each year with the coming of the warm weather, brought life, hope, colour and reassurance to those still fighting. But why did poppies grew there in autumn too?

Poppies seeds can be inside the soil for years without germinating and only grow after the ground has been disturbed, so with the digging and bombing, the seeds came to the surface and bloomed even in autumn (though, obviously, there were more poppies in spring and summer).

The most popular "slogan" for Remembrance Day is "LEST WE FORGET" (= so we won't forget)

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.

FLANDERS= The northern part of Belgium.

THE CROSSES= The graves, the tombstones (in the shape of crosses)

FIELDS= The countryside, especially if it is cultivated. Every piece of land own by a person and cultivated, is called "a field", that's why we say "the fields" to refer to the landscape in general.

ROW= /rəʊ/ A series of things placed on a line (see picture of rows of crosses). ROW ON ROW means "row after row", one row, and then another row, and another row... and many more. He's talking about rows of tombs marked with crosses.

THAT MARK OUR PLACE= Which mark our tomb.

LARKS= A species of birds (see pictures).

SCARCE= Almost not.

AMID= (old fashioned or literary) Among.

THE DEAD= All the people who are dead, who have died.

SHORT DAYS AGO= Only a few days ago.

DAWN= Sunrise, the time when the day begins and the sun rises up.

SUNSET= The time when the sun sets and the day finishes.

GLOW= Shine.

TAKE UP OUR QUARREL= Continue our fight.

FOE= (old fashioned or literary) Enemy.

FAILING HANDS= Hands which failed (because they were killed)

TORCH= (see picture) We often use the torch as a symbol of something important that should be passed on from one people to other, especially from generation to generation (in this case, from the dead to the living). This metaphor comes from the Olympic Games, where runners pass on the torch to the next, so one by one they can make the fire go all the way from Greece to the city holding the games.

BE YOURS TO HOLD IT HIGH= It's your turn to raise the fire so it keeps shining. This form BE is not an imperative, it is a subjunctive form (usually not used in modern English), so it means "may it be yours...".

YE= /ji:/  (old fashioned or literary) You (as subject of a sentence).


SHALL= (old fashioned or literary or emphatic) Will.

WE SHALL NOT SLEEP= We won't rest in peace.

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