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
Flanders fields.

Written during the First World War by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae 

2

May 3rd 1915: ‘In Flanders Fields’ written

On this day in 1915, Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote the famous war poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. He wrote it sitting in an ambulance after presiding over the funeral of his friend who had died at the Second Battle of Ypres. Originally he was not happy with his poem, but once it was published it became very popular, and still is today considered one of the greatest poems of the First World War. Its references to red poppies growing over the graves of soldiers led to the use of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance for fallen soldiers.

“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.”

Sir John Gielgud reads
In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae (1872-1918)

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.

John McCrae (1872-1918)

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,
   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.

In Flanders Field

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.

John McCrae

In Flanders Fields

May 1915, by Lt. Col. John McCrae, MD (Canadian, 1872-1918)

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.

Remembrance Sunday

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.

-In Flanders Fields, John McCrae 1915

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,
    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. 

- John McCrae

2

Today, May 3rd, marks the 100th Anniversary of the writing of the famous poem, In Flanders Fields, by Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae.

McCrae was born in Guelph, Ontario, Canada in 1872. McCrae was a family man, as well as an artist, a writer, and a talented doctor. He served during the Second Boer War, and in Belgium in the First World War. He had trained as an artilleryman, but was transferred to medic during WWI. He wrote In Flanders Fields after his friend, Lt. Alexis Helmer, died on May 2nd, 1915. Lt.-Col. McCrae died of pneumonia and meningitis in January of 1918.

In Flanders Fields has become a token of remembrance, particularly in Canada, for soldiers who fought in the First and Second World Wars. The poppy, mentioned in McCrae’s poem, is worn throughout the month of November by Canadians, British, and Americans in remembrance. The poem is read every November 11th across Canada.

The field poppy is an annual plant which flowers each year between about May and August. It’s seeds are disseminated on the wind and can lie dormant in the ground for a long time. If the ground is disturbed from the early spring the seeds will germinate and the poppy flowers will grow.

This is what happened in parts of the front lines in Belgium and France. Once the ground was disturbed by the fighting, the poppy seeds lying in the ground began to germinate and grow during the warm weather in the spring and summer months of 1915, 1916, 1917 and 1918. The field poppy was also blooming in parts of the Turkish battlefields on the Gallipoli penninsular when the ANZAC and British Forces arrived at the start of the campaign in April 1915.

“In Flanders Fields the Poppies Blow…”

The sight of these delicate, vibrant red flowers growing on the shattered ground caught the attention of a Canadian soldier by the name of John McCrae. He noticed how they had sprung up in the disturbed ground of the burials around the artillery position he was in. It was during the warm days of early May 1915 when he found himself with his artillery brigade near to the Ypres-Yser canal. He is believed to have composed a poem following the death of a friend at that time. The first lines of the poem have become some of the most famous lines written in relation to the First World War.

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.

John McCrae - 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,
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.

Lest We Forget

In Flanders fields the poppies grow
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.

– Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae

TLSP 2016 pre-gig tape

For those who were able to see The Last Shadow Puppets live in 2016, these songs might bring back some warm memories. It are the songs Miles Kane and Alex Turner hand-picked to play before and after each gig and in between support act and main act. It’s the TLSP 2016 pre-gig tape!

Aaron Neville - Tell It Like It Is
Al Martino - Volare (Nel Blu Di Pinto Di Blu)
Bob Marley & The Wailers - Soul Rebel
Carole King - I Feel The Earth Move
David Bowie - Golden Years
Dion - Born to Be With You
Dr. Hook - Sexy Eyes
Dr. Hook - When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman
Dr. John - Such A Night
George McCrae - Rock Your Baby
Harry Nilsson - Jump Into The Fire
Jacques Dutronc - Les Cactus
Joe Cocker - The Letter
Marvin Gaye - Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)
Maxine Nightingale - Right Back Where We Started From
Nick Lowe - I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass
Paul McCartney - Coming Up
Paul McCartney & Wings - Let ‘Em In
Serge Gainsbourg - Initials B.B.
Smokie - Don’t Play Your Rock 'N’ Roll To Me
Super Furry Animals - Juxtapozed With U
The Beach Boys - Got To Know the Woman
The Style Council - It Didn’t Matter
The Style Council - Long Hot Summer
The Temptations - Let Your Hair Down
The Three Degrees - Collage
Todd Rundgren - I Saw The Light
Toto - Georgy Porgy
Urge Overkill - Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon

Here in a handy Spotify playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/119583062/playlist/0ZuMITxkdQG3TQZmJd5pQi

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,
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.
John McCrae (1872–1918)

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.

by John McCrae, May 1915

Photo via Getty Images

For Veterans’ Day we’re revisiting a story from the NPR archives – poets like Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, John McCrae and Rupert Brooke are well-known today; most everyone who’s taken high school English has run across Owen’s shattering “Dulce et Decorum Est.”

But there’s another writer, Laurence Binyon, whose name is forgotten – even though one verse of one of his works is still read throughout Britain and the Commonwealth countries:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Find out more about Binyon and his poem “For the Fallen” here.

– Petra