Canadian Troops WWI

War Poem Of The Week: John McCrae’s 'In Flanders Fields'

Canadian Troops WWI

In the weeks leading up to Remembrance Sunday, we’re taking a look at a different war poem every Friday as a way to remember those who sacrificed their lives for us.

“In Flanders Fields”- John McCrae, 1915


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 McCrea

This is a poem almost synonymous with Remembrance Sunday.

Written by Canadian doctor and soldier John McCrae, the poem is read at services across the country in remembrance of those killed in the First World War.

McCrae was appointed Brigade-Surgeon to the First Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery during WWI, and in April 1915 he was stationed in the trenches of an area of Ypres known as Flanders.

It was the death of 22-year-old Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, McCrae’s close friend, which inspired the poem itself.

Written, then, as an act of remembrance, “In Flanders Fields” sums up the sense of loss and tragedy felt by so many during the years of the war.

Sadly, this would be the second to last poem that McCrae was to write; he died of pneumonia and meningitis on 29 January, 1918. 

But his poem lives on as we turn to it each year, using his words to reflect on the lives and sacrifice of those killed in conflict.

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