Sunday, June 08, 2008

Poppies

Poppies are ancient and powerful blooms. In Persian literature, red poppies are the "flower of love." In Greek and Roman myths, red poppies were used as offerings to the dead and carved on tombstones as a symbol for eternal sleep. (The Greeks had long been aware of the effects of opium). Red poppies also later symbolized resurrection after death. In The Wizard of Oz, a field of magic poppies causes two of the characters to fall into a deep sleep, putting them in danger.


Red poppies are also associated with those who died in World War I, or the Great War. Poppy seeds grow more abundantly when the soil is disturbed or churned. When the war was over, former battlefields became filled with poppies. John McCrae, who was a battlefield surgeon during the war, wrote the famous poem "In Flanders Fields" as a memorial to those who died. And poppies became a symbol for remembrance.

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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.
- John McCrae

That we find a crystal or a poppy beautiful means that we are less alone, that we are more deeply inserted into existence than the course of a single life would lead us to believe.
- John Berger

1 comment:

Rose said...

Oh...the poppy :)!
Yours is much better than mine though :) nto that it matters...:)