In Flanders Fields by J. McCrae

In Flanders Fields by Lieut.-Col. John McCrae, M.D.

In memory of Lt. (William) Noel Dawson Tyson (1896-1918)

Major John McCrae was a Canadian surgeon, a graduate of Toronto University. He survived the horrors of the intense fighting in the Ypres Salient in 1915 and was moved to write this poem after conducting the service - the chaplain was away - for a young Canadian friend, Lieut. Alexis Helmer, who had been killed in action.

For about twenty minutes he sat and wrote, watching the wild poppies blowing in the nearby cemetery, just north of Ypres. Another young soldier came across him and watched him for a while: He looked around from time to time, his eyes straying to Helmer's grave..

Zantvoorde cemetery When he had finished McCrae handed the pad to the young man who commented, afterwards, that the scene was just as the poem described with the poppies that morning being blown by a gentle east wind.
(picture: Zandvoorde British Cemetery, Noel's burial place)

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.

[Close]