Thursday, November 11, 2021

In Flanders Fields (Armistice Day 2021)

 I have posted this now for four years, and intend to post it on Armistice Day ever year until I no longer maintain this blog (and maybe even after that).

Of all the war poetry that I have read, this is the one that speaks most passionately and clearly to me.  These words are written still early in the War, when there still such things as idealism and hope for a quick end.

One wonders - in one's quiet moments - what Europe would have been like if Flanders Fields had never been, if Kaiser Wilhelm had sought other means than war to make Germany great, if the Romanov's could have accepted the changing times and changed with them to a real representative democracy, if Franz Josep and the Hapsburg bureaucracy could have created a more inclusive Central European sense of identity, not one that was merely Hapsburg.

If, if if.

One wonders if the millions of young men that had died were instead turned loose on agriculture and industry, if the millions of sweethearts and wives and children did not have their lives disrupted, if the lands of Belgium and France were not torn apart by shells and trenches - what would the world look like today?

The poppies, having lived and lived and lived again through their seeds and their withering and rebirth, may know.  But they will not confess their wisdom to men.

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.

Lt. Colonel John McCrae 03 May 1915

5 comments:

  1. I think of my own grandfather, TB. I was a fresh faced kid that lied about his age to enlist at 16. At 17 he was a wounded hollowed out veteran at 17.

    He participated in the lunacy of of WW1, and had to watch it all over again in WW2. After that it was an endless procession of bush wars and police actions.

    Today I see provocations every week. Every couple of months, some are blatant acts of war.

    I find myself beginning to think much as my grandfather did.

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    1. Glen, for myself, it is hard to imagine what any war does to a person, let alone what happened out of WW I. His was not the only hollowed out experience that I have read of. It changed people and societies in ways that were not always for the best.

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  2. We are tormented by our "betters" at every turn.
    The new international order has no need for proles, and never did.

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    1. Just So - It often does seem like we are nothing more than a form of peasantry - because such are needed to have Our Political And Social Betters feel as if they are actual useful.

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  3. The real enemy always profits from the destruction of society, on a concrete and spiritual basis. We are fighting against darkness.

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