In Flanders Fields was first published in the English magazine Punch in December 1915. Within months, this poem had come to represent the sacrifice of those who fought in the First World War. John McCrae died of sickness on January 28, 1918, and is buried in Wimereux Cemetery in Boulogne, France. His wife, Nora, died two years later.
McCrae wrote the poem while staying at a hotel in Brussels during Christmas 1915. It was not until several years after the war ended that it became apparent how important it would be for people to remember what had happened.
The poem has eight lines with three stanzas each. The meter follows the traditional form for poems called villanels - six syllables in each line. The last word of each line also ends in an unstressed syllable for a musical quality. This makes the poem feel like music when read aloud.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow between the crosses, row on row. They mark our graves but they also tell about our lives. A flower grows in memory of everyone who has died in wars. It shows that even though we mourn those who have been lost, they have not been forgotten.
People all over the world have found inspiration in this poem. Many have created art works based on it or used it in memorial events. Some have even written their own versions of it.
Within months, this poem had come to represent the sacrifices of those who fought in the First World War. The poem is still read at Remembrance Day events in Canada and other nations across the world today.
Flanders is a region in Belgium. Fields of Flanders mark the battlefields where British, Canadian, and German troops fought against each other during the First World War. Today, these fields are covered in green grass and dotted with white stones that stand for burial monuments.
The First World War began in 1914 when Austria-Hungary and Germany declared war on Serbia, which was then part of the Austrian Empire. Other countries including Russia, France, and Britain soon joined the conflict too. It lasted for four years and resulted in millions of deaths on all sides. By the time it ended in 1918, many people had lost their lives.
During the war, thousands of Canadian soldiers were sent to Europe to fight against Germany. Many of them died after being injured on the battlefields of Flanders. After they had been buried in foreign soil, their families back home could only find out about their death later through newspapers or letters. This image was used by the editors of Punch to show what Flanders fields looked like in 2015, after nearly 100 years since the start of the First World War.
In May 1915, on the day after the death of a fellow soldier, John McCrae scribbled the poem "In Flanders Fields" on a piece of paper. He had no idea that those 13 phrases would become ingrained in the hearts and brains of everybody who wore them. Today, in some form or another, they can be found in almost all memorials dedicated to the men who died fighting for Canada at the Battle of Flanders.
There are currently more than 200 communities across Canada that have adopted Flanders Fields as their motto. It also serves as the official mottos for several organizations including:
The Province of Ontario - In memory of our sons and daughters who served in the military and were lost during war times
The City of Ottawa - Remembering those who gave their lives in service to Canada
The Royal Canadian Legion - The legacies we leave behind ensure freedom's promise is never forgotten
McCrae's poem was first published in the Victoria (B.C.) Times in late 1915. It quickly went viral, and within weeks it had been set to music, sung by children in Belgium. Then in January 1916, it was put into action when King Albert I of Belgium created the Poppy Appeal to raise money for war victims. Since then, billions of petals have been gathered to make thousands of monuments commemorating these young men and women.
He is widely known for his war memorial poem "In Flanders Fields"...
|Occupation||Poet, physician, author, Lieutenant Colonel of the Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Known for||Author of “In Flanders Fields”|
In the fields of Flanders The haunting poem 'In Flanders Fields,' written by John McCrae, a Canadian army doctor, following the loss of his close friend and compatriot, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, is one of the most affecting recollections of World War I. The poem has become an iconic symbol of sacrifice and heroism in wartime.
In World War I, the area was part of France until it was captured by the German Army in 1914. It is now part of Belgium again. The French language is still widely spoken in Flanders.
Fields in Flanders - image courtesy of Joey Franco
The poem is directed at no specific person or organization but rather as a tribute to all those who died in the war. It also expresses the hope that the memory of those who lost their lives will always be kept alive.
Flanders Fields are the name given to the landscape around the town of Ypres in West Flanders, Belgium. The area is famous for its lush green grasslands with many small ponds and ditches which make it ideal for military combat.
Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, McCrae's companion, was killed in battle and buried in a temporary cemetery on May 2, 1915. Wild poppies were already blooming between the crosses that marked the numerous dead, and he was inspired the next day to compose In Flanders Fields. The poem was first published in the Toronto Daily Star on May 5, 1915.
It was very popular and helped bring attention to the war. Many people sent letters to friends and family back home about how much it meant to them. That inspired more poets like McCrae to write poems about their feelings toward the war.
The original inscription on the memorial reads as follows: "To the glory of God and in memory of all who have died for their country during the great war 1914-1918." It is estimated that nearly a million men from Canada went to fight in the war. Over 80,000 were killed and many more injured or captured. This makes it one of the largest wars in history.
After the war was over, people started to think about what kind of monument should be built in honor of the soldiers who had died. Lieutenant Governor Alexander Campbell invited suggestions from people in the community who wanted to see something done. A group of artists was asked to come up with ideas, and McCrae was one of them.