Monday, November 11, 2013

'In Flanders Fields': A Doctor's Poetic 'Prescription'

Dr. John McCrae, a native of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, 
was serving as a field surgeon in the Canadian artillery, 
responsible for a field hospital,
 during the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915.

The death and burial of his friend, and former student, Lt. Alexis Helmer, 
prompted Dr. McCrae to write ‘In Flanders Fields’, on May 3, 1915.
Dr. McCrae died three years later, in France, from cerebral meningitis, 
and complications from pneumonia.

Interestingly, Dr. McCrae originally ended the first

 and second last lines of the poem with the word, 'grow'. 

 Upon the suggestion of the British magazine, Punch, 

to change 'grow' in the first line, to 'blow', 

the poet agreed, although he was known for using

both versions when writing the poem
 by hand for friends and family.

The poem is taught in Canadian schools, in early November

to honour all the brave soldiers who risked and lost their lives,

to protect our country's freedom.

Lest we forget.

An expat, 
thinking of her beautiful, native country, 
grateful for those men and women of tremendous courage,
on this Remembrance Day,
Monday, November 11th, 2013.


All images: Google


  1. Poppy
    Beautiful post.
    I saw a special on John McCrae. It was so interesting.
    Thank you for sharing the information with everyone!

  2. Beautiful poem...lovely post! Marisa

  3. Sad and beautiful. x

    Louisa @ My Family & Abruzzo

  4. As always beautiful post, Poppy.

  5. This was really interesting. I love the poem but really only had exposure to it after I was in college as an English major. In the US, we don't seem to have the same air of remembrance on this day the way people do in Canada and Europe. But I'm glad to have another way of looking at it; as much as I respect the Veteran's Day holiday we have here, I think it's important to recognize veterans of wars long past, as well as the veterans alive today.

  6. A beautiful post, Poppy. Fields of poppies have always moved me so. We had to memorize In Flanders Fields when I was in elementary school and we bought red poppies to pin to our clothes too. I wonder why they stopped that? In researching World War I, I read several books written by Canadian officers and knew of the great number of men who served in it long before American soldiers went.

    Didn't Dr. McCrae have a wonderful face? You can see character there.

  7. A beautiful post Poppy! Thanks for sharing some facts about John McCrae and his beautiful poem on this special day. Blessings, Pamela

  8. Oh Poppy, I knew you wouldn't disappoint! I have not had time for a post on this very special and sacred day...but I'll see if I have time later tonight.
    The story behind that poem blows me away each time I hear it!
    Hugs, love and PEACE my dear blessed friend.

  9. He wrote so eloquently of the huge sacrifice our veterans make for our freedom. Thank you for this beautiful post.

  10. It's great that you have chosen these pictures as a reminder.
    Greetings, RW & SK

  11. I love that poem. Put it on my blog this morning too. Hello from Canada J

  12. A beautiful post Poppy and a most fitting tribute!

  13. Dear Poppy - We celebrated Veterans Day in the States yesterday, and this was a poignant post to honor it. Thank you for sharing this poem with all your readers around the world! Take care!

  14. thank you for this wonderful post - a lovely tribute to the man who wrote the poem and Remembrance Day. One of these days I would like to have a garden bed of red poppies. Have a lovely week, and thank you for stopping by my blog this week.

  15. I knew the beginning of this, but never the whole of it, thanks for sharing this beautiful poem. It was interesting to read that Punch magazine wanted to change a word, 'grow' sounds much better to me. Not that it makes too much difference to a very thought provoking piece.


Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I really appreciate hearing from all of you! Have a great day!