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.