The Poppy In 1915, the Lieutenant John McCrae, a Canadian military doctor, wrote the famous poem “In Flanders’ Fields” after the death of his friend killed by a German shell in Ypres and buried in a simple grave with a wooden cross. This poem became the symbol of the sacrifice of soldiers during the First World War. The symbolism of the poppy as a flower of remembrance originates from this poem.
In Flanders’ Fields, John McCrae, 1915
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.
The Bluet (Cornflower) The symbolism of the cornflower, as with the poppy, originates from the Great War. Cornflowers continued to grow in the ravaged earth and trenches of the Great War and for the “Poilus”, the French Infantrymen, they were a rare reminder of life out on the battlefield. After the war the flower became the French flower of remembrance.
Cornflowers of France, Alphonse Bougoin, 1916
Here they are, the little cornflowers, Cornflowers the colour of the sky Such pretty gay flowers Who really are not shy Step forward and be joyful Leave my friends, goodbye! Goodbye to you, little “blues” Little cornflowers our hope is with you!
Roses of Picardy On the 25th June 2004 “the Rose of Picardy” was christened at the Valloires Gardens. The rose was created by David Austin a renowned rose specialist from Great Britain. The story of this rose starts in 1916 when a British soldier, who was resting behind the lines, met an inhabitant of the village of Warloy-Baillon in the Somme (near Albert). Struck by the contrast of the scenes of terrible fighting at the front and the peaceful picture of a lady tending her roses, the soldier decided to write a poem. A hymn of peace and of love, carrying a message of hope and romanticism, the texts were put to music two years later by Haydn Wood, an English composer. The song has been translated into French, and has known various interpretations, such as those by Sidney Bechet, Yves Montand and Tino Rossi, etc