A small poppy

hand and poppy 2

This week’s photo challenge is to take a minimalist photo and this shot of my daughter holding a tiny image of a poppy reminded me of some of the WWI poetry I read with members of my read aloud, reading groups this week.

A particular favourite was ‘In Flanders Fields’ by John McCrae.  One woman liked the mention of larks singing, and said that birds didn’t take any notice of boundaries.  She envied them their freedom.  Another person thought the description of life, in the second stanza, included below, very beautiful and moving.  “It’s so simple, but says everything,” she said, “these are the important things in life: to see dawn, see the sun set, to love and to be loved.”

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.

Although there is a mention of war, “our quarrel with the foe”, in the final stanza, our group was in agreement about wanting to remember people who have died, not only in war but in any circumstance, and felt that wearing a poppy was a respectful and loving act of remembrance and not about celebrating war.  The final lines of the poem, we felt, could be about remembering and not about carrying on a fight.

If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Someone said that when you love a person, you keep loving them, even after they’ve died, and that remembering was a way of showing love and still connecting with that person.

You will appreciate that some members of our groups are frail and elderly and it’s powerfully moving to hear them – people who might be quite near to the end of their lives – talking of their feelings about death and remembering so openly and thoughtfully.  It reminded me, again, of how important the work of The Reader Organisation is.


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