In Flanders Fields


In Flanders Fields (1915) became a symbolic WWI poem written by McCrae, who served during the war as a lieutenant colonel and surgeon. He was inspired to write it May 3, 1915 after presiding over the funeral of Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle of Ypres. The poem celebrates the poppy as a symbol of resilience. It is structured as a "rondeau" form featuring a repeating verse, commonly set to music in the 13th through 15th centuries.
In Flanders Fields
John McCrae and Ernest Clegg, 1921
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 was featured as The Short Story of the Day on Thu, Dec 08, 2022

* McCrae's handwritten version ends the first line with "grow." Apparently, he first discarded the poem, displeased with it, but fellow soldier's retrieved it.

In Flanders Fields draft

Featured in our collection of World War I Literature, Poetry for Students, and 100 Great Poems.


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Return to the John McCrae library , or . . . Read the next poem; The Anxious Dead

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