May 29, 2010

Poppies.

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40 comments:

Jason (the commenter) said...

I feel sleepy suddenly.

Trooper York said...

Oh my God!
Giant Vegetable Vaginas.

Joe said...

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.

Big Mike said...

So true, Joe.

The last line of the Weavers' version of Woody Guthrie's "Reuben James":

Who can explain it? Who can tell me why?

The worst of men must fight,
And the best of men must die?

Ralph L said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ralph L said...

Fools give you reasons, wise men never try.

The Drill SGT said...

All Gave Some.

Some Gave All.

edutcher said...

Keeping in mind you're under oath, Professor Althouse, did you crank up the saturation or were they really that red?

Big Mike said...

So true, Joe.

The last line of the Weavers' version of Woody Guthrie's "Reuben James":

Who can explain it? Who can tell me why?

The worst of men must fight,
And the best of men must die?


Sometimes I wonder if it's the other way around, in the sense of the speech from Henry IV(?), "Gentlemen now abed in England shall think themselves accursed when this day is named".

In any case, wearing the poppy is/was de rigeur on Armistice Day in Britain, to the point of signs proclaiming, "Wear your poppy".

I hope it still is.

Joe said...

As a devotee of "The Great War and Modern Memory" I must say the English in the First World War had the BEST poetry.

pst314 said...

"In Flanders Fields the poppies blow..."

Thanks, Joe. Most of the people I know have no idea why we wear poppies at this time of year.

From Wikipedia: "Lieutenant Colonel John Alexander McCrae (November 30, 1872 – January 28, 1918) was a Canadian poet, physician, author, artist and soldier during World War I and a surgeon during the battle of Ypres. He is best known for writing the famous war memorial poem In Flanders Fields."

Lest we forget, lest we forget!

pst314 said...

Speaking of Memorial Day, James Hooker has written and performed some very fine songs, such as Hanging Out With the Boys and Calling all the Clans Together and On My Way to Wanna Be.

Fred4Pres said...

Memorial Day was originally Decoration Day, which was started after the Civil War to remember those who died. The date was so flowers would be blooming when it was observed.

Rest in peace and thank you to all of you who fell. Rest in peace.

Penny said...

My first thought when I saw those poppies was heroin.

No heroin in Easy Rider as I can recall, but society tends to lump all their illegal drugs into column "B" for bad. That's a pity. So many lives have been changed, if not ruined, because of that.

This mindset is the reason why marijuana was ever considered a "gateway" drug. Marijuana never led directly to more dangerous drug use, but what it did do is make you an "outlaw"...an outlaw, just like the heroin user whose company you might keep WELL before you hung out with any of those "squares".

Laws have many unintended consequences, and many we don't even think about.

The Drill SGT said...

from Henry IV(?),

Henry V. The last lines of which are:

From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRj01LShXN8

edutcher said...

I stand corrected.

Thank you for your service, Sergeant.

Penny said...

Joe, and I assume, Althouse too, thank you for the reminder of the significance of the red poppy on Memorial Day weekend.

Frankly, it caught me up short on just how rapidly the meanings of symbols can change if you live long enough. From Flanders Field to Middle Eastern opium highways.

Sometimes that's a good thing, and obviously, sometimes it's a jarring juxtaposition.

pst314 said...

"Frankly, it caught me up short on just how rapidly the meanings of symbols can change if you live long enough. From Flanders Field to Middle Eastern opium highways."

In truth, the public was aware of that opium came from poppies long before WWI. Sadly the drug connection is still known by some while WWI is forgotten. ("Flanders fields? Ned Flanders?" said one man I knew. Sigh.)

Stogie said...

Yes, "In Flanders Fields" made the blood red poppies of Europe famous, and the poppy is still a symbol of Memorial Day in Europe and Canada.

In California, the poppy is our state flower; however, California poppies are a bright orange, not red. They grow everywhere, by roadsides, in vacant lots and fields.

virgil xenophon said...

Actually, the wearing of poppies is NOT a Memorial Day tradition, it is an Armistice Day tradition celebrating the end of WWI--the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.



When I grew up in the 50s the VFW always sold them in the town square of my home town and all over most small towns in the US--don't know about the major cities--or how widespread it is now. But until this post I've never seen the poppy associated with Memorial Day.

JAL said...

When we were in France in March we did a lot of driving. We were surprised at the number of WWI French cemetaries (smallish, but with monuments) we went by. I believe we passed a WWI American one also. (Besides spending time at Epinal [WW II].)

I think Europe is more aware of WWI.

Thank you Professor.

JAL said...

At the Memorial Day parade in our town the veterans (some from WWI, I would guess, it was in the 50s and 60s) walked the route through the crowd and sold the red paper poppies to wear.

We did not have a Veteran's Day parade -- we were up north. Too cold.

So maybe the tradition migrated way back then to the larger crowd and to honor the dead. At least where I lived in NY.

Lem said...

Robert Redford, Hunt for Red October, Red State, Red China, Boston Red Sox, Red Dog, Red Mud, Better Dead than Red, a rose by any other name.. Message: I care

Joe said...

When we were in France in March we did a lot of driving. We were surprised at the number of WWI French cemeteries (smallish, but with monuments) we went by. I believe we passed a WWI American one also. (Besides spending time at Epinal [WW II].)

I think Europe is more aware of WWI.


IIRC, France suffered more dead, in actual terms and per capita than any other nation, in WWI. Even more that Tsarist Russia. There was NO family in France that did not suffer at least one fatality from that conflict. It’s no wonder that there are so many cemeteries from that era. Also, that war ended European dominance, European Imperialism, and the European ideas of Class and Progress, and the like. So Europe is very likely to remember WWI more than the US.

Earth Girl said...

Recently some prisoners came to help me in the gardens at the DNR site where I work. I mentioned the beauty of the poppies in full bloom. One man said he already took a huge snort from one. I burst out laughing because the only buzz he would get from these poppies is the bee up his nose.

kenthetrucker said...

In Flanders Fields was required in school when I grew up in Canada. Then some lucky student got to recite it at Remembrance Day (11/11) ceremonies at the cenataph which most small towns also had. They were decorated with wreaths of Poppies that were placed during said ceremonies. It was also the only time of year my father pulled out his uniform and ribbons then went to the Royal Canadian Legions to toast his comrades present and fallen.
I remember at his funeral he had a colour guard and my American step-son seemed confused and astonished that Canada was even in WW2 .
Thanks to all vets that fought for freedom and liberty from all countries.
Lest We Forget

Penny said...

"In truth, the public was aware of that opium came from poppies long before WWI."

Of course you're right...On the other hand,

"Aware of", is not the same thing as shared SYMBOLIC remembrance.

Penny said...

Old hippies pretty well have a shared SYMBOLIC remembrance that didn't center on WWI. Like it or not, there are MORE OF US alive, and still in our influential prime until...oh, bout twenty five years from now when the "kids" will...IF we are lucky, see the poppy as a right nice flower in the garden instead of one more reason to coddle inner-city bums or suburban losers with FREE something or other to save them from being the wrecks they are.

With all due respect, I am well aware how my generation downgraded symbolism, and even more acutely aware that it happened SIMPLY because there were so many of us.

That's just DEAD wrong.

peter hoh said...

My boulevard poppies are finished for the season. They bloomed about 2 weeks early this year, and now they are no more.

Three glorious days in a row, I had 50-plus blossoms.

A neighbor has a deep red poppy that's blooming right now. I'm going to have to get one of those for my garden.

Ralph L said...

So Europe is very likely to remember WWI more than the US.
I thought he meant they remember WWI more than II, which is possible for the reasons you mention, plus the French didn't surrender in WWI.

Stogie said...

virgil xenophon said...
Actually, the wearing of poppies is NOT a Memorial Day tradition, it is an Armistice Day tradition celebrating the end of WWI--the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.


Wrong, Virgil. Maybe you should research the topic before you embarrass yourself further.

See the link:
http://www.usmemorialday.org/backgrnd.html

There are plenty more links to poppies used for Memorial Day. Ever hear of Google?

reader_iam said...

The Lord Bless You and Keep You

virgil xenophon said...

Stogie, I beg to differ. You are only partly right. While you are indeed correct that the practice began with Memorial Day, I would contend that it is (in my experience & observation) much more closely associated with Armistice/Veterans Day. "Flanders Fields" is, after all a WWI poem and every other nation--England, Canada, Aus & NZ celebrate the 11th of Nov as "Remembrance" Day and the wearing of the poppy in those nations is heavily associated with it. (Just check Google for Armistice Day) Perhaps it is a regional thing, but I distinctly DO NOT remember parer VFW poppies being sold on Memorial Day , only in Nov for Armistice Day--perhaps it is/was different on the West Coast. Although truth to tell the association of poppies with even Armistice Day seems greatly diminished nation-wide today as compared to the 50s

And think about it, stogie, Memorial Day honors the dead of all wars--many of which took place in climes where no poppies grow. Only the European theater and WWI which was fought almost exclusively in Europe has such strong ties with the poppy--especially when one throws in the poem. So I still strongly argue the poppy is an Armistace Day flower--NOT a Memorial Day one--either in the public historical memory or in practice of observance.

Bob_R said...

I've always been vaguely uneasy with the poppy as a memorial/veteran's day symbol. To me it's so closely attached to the UK Great War experience before the US entered the war. It has always seemed a little presumptuous for us to adopt that symbol.

In spite of that, Joe's reminder inspired me. I had to come up with a communion song for today. A nice guitar arrangement of Flanders Fields should do the trick.

edutcher said...

Joe said...

When we were in France in March we did a lot of driving. We were surprised at the number of WWI French cemeteries (smallish, but with monuments) we went by. I believe we passed a WWI American one also. (Besides spending time at Epinal [WW II].)

I think Europe is more aware of WWI.


IIRC, France suffered more dead, in actual terms and per capita than any other nation, in WWI. Even more that Tsarist Russia. There was NO family in France that did not suffer at least one fatality from that conflict. It’s no wonder that there are so many cemeteries from that era. Also, that war ended European dominance, European Imperialism, and the European ideas of Class and Progress, and the like. So Europe is very likely to remember WWI more than the US.


I believe the US only saw about 4 months' combat in WWI and none of the trenches. By that time, combined-arms warfare was just beginning to be used effectively and the momentum was with the Allies.

Joe is right about French casualties. France (the Marne, Verdun, etc.), Britain (the Somme, Paschendaele (sp?)), and I think Italy (Caporetto, the 9 battles of the Isonzo) all lost more in WWI than WWII.

The Drill SGT said...

Joe is right about French casualties. France (the Marne, Verdun, etc.), Britain (the Somme, Paschendaele (sp?)),

The Brits do a lot of traditions better than we do. One that comes to mind, I saw in York. As you know, the British Army associates Regiments with specific Counties. Men are recruited from the locality, and serve together. When the British Army downsizes, the colors of the Regiment are not retired to a warehouse, but instead are hung from the rafters in the cathedral (of York in this case). Maybe it comes from having a State religion. Anyway, in an alcove in the Cathedral, there are memorials to the various local regiments and their losses in WWI. I rememeber one Regiment, the Green Howards as I recall, that lost more than 30,000 dead and wounded in WWI. that is a lot of churning through a set of Battalions.

another perspective, in the first day of the battle of the Sommne in 1916, the British Army lost 20,000 dead and 40,000 wounded. 60k in a day...

the scale of the losses boggles the mind

Trent said...

The song "Poppies" by Marcy Playground.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1jAByECNc0

WV: "Mingyna"

c3 said...

I think Europe is more aware of WWI.


Interesting thought. When the phrase "World War" is spoken in the US I bet most think of WWII.

Far more WWII movies than WWI movies in US.

Now there's a great trivia/opinion poll
"What are the greatest World War I movies?"

A couple that come to my mind are:
-All Quiet on the Western Front
-Paths of Glory
-Gallipoli
- (a recent one) A Very Long Engagement
-Lawrence of Arabia
-Le Grande Illusion

virgil xenophon said...

@The Drill SGT.

To add to your point about the 60k casualties at the Somme...12,000 of those came in THE FIRST HOUR.

The Drill SGT said...

Dawn Patrol
The Blue Max

Trooper York said...

The Fighting 69th.

If I ever got a chance to make a movie I would make one based on the life of Monk Eastman a turn of the century gangster who became a hero in World War 1. Parts of it were used in some flics but the whole story is fascinating.