In Flanders Fields II – a new poem in response to the original

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae
Is heard on each Remembrance Day
And on that day, with heads bowed low
We think of those who fought the foe
“We will remember”, we all say

Yet in that pose, we do not stay
And soon we turn and walk away
To let forgotten poppies blow
In Flanders Fields

Those young men died, so that today
In freedom we can work and play
They paid a hefty price, and so
Let’s not forget the debt we owe
To those who will forever stay
In Flanders Fields


The original poem was penned by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae in 1915, the day following the death of his friend, Alexis Helmer.

In Canada, his poem is read at Remembrance Day services (November 11) each year.  My poem was written in response to the fact that for one day out of each year, we take the time to reflect on the cost of our freedom, but for the rest of the year, we largely take that freedom for granted.  Note: both my poem, and McCrae’s are written in the rondeau form.

Here is McCrae’s original poem:

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


Originally posted November 4, shared with dVerse OLN on Nov. 29

20 thoughts on “In Flanders Fields II – a new poem in response to the original

  1. Reblogged this on From guestwriters and commented:
    Each year in Europe first they have November 1 and 2 and then 11 when suddenly graves have to be cleaned , flowers to be put on the graves and services are held to remember the deceased.
    November the 11th takes a special place because then not only the dead are remembered but also those who nearly lost their life or those whose life came to a standstill or got broken for ever, though not many are conscious about that damage done in the deepest of their heart.
    On Remembrance Day or Armistice day we want to remember that war came to an end, but many forget war is still going on in many countries. Many families all over the world are torn by grief. A never ending sorrow has come over humanity.
    100 years after the beginning of the Great War we should seriously reconsider how we want to solve the world problems and would seriously work for getting peace to be something everybody in the world can share.
    who we take the time to reflect on the cost of our freedom, but for the rest of the year, we largely take that freedom for granted.

  2. Great echo of the original poem, Bryan! I grew up in Picardy, near many of the WW1 battlefields and the Péronne Historial. One cannot drive a few miles without passing even a small cemetery and thus those soldiers are not totally forgotten.

  3. we should remember throughout the year…that is the danger of that special day of rememberance…it passes far too fast and before you know it we have forgotten…and are once more taking for granted the freedoms that we have because of them….nice echo in your poem man….

  4. I think sometimes remembrance becomes a ritual that we participate in without much thought…but your poem gives pause to that, as a beautiful reminder to allow that silent remembrance to extend past ritual observation and into the reality of living a grateful life worthy of the debt we owe for our freedom. You have created a masterful re-make of this moving poem.

  5. i feel so fortunate to have been able to work for the military in civilian status to improve their morale welfare and recreation for decades.. and it never fails me to say sir or mam.. as i was too weak a man to serve this way for the freedom that was earned by so many others but me…

    This is a wonderful tribute to those women and men.. and patriotism does shine when we pay tribute to those who have served our country well.. and sometimes to their death .. for freedom continues to ring true..:)

  6. A terrific tribute poem, B. I remember in the 50’s reading an article by a concentration camp survivor entitled LEST WE FORGET. Viet Nam was my war & now the Gulf Wars, the New Crusades are upon us. Isn’t it interesting that ISIS & Ebola have slipped out of the media focus for weeks now, so the riots over Ferguson take central spotlight? Yet ISIS is extant & thousands of people are dying in West Africa. The fast pace we all live at, the technology that is clinged to or carried by everyone under 50 is part of the lack of recall & sentiment.

  7. I really like how you have responded to the original poem, bringing it’s significance to light in our world today. I also posted the original on my blog in November with a little information, as many are not aware of the poem or the story that inspired it.

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