Poppies

Photo©Andrew Hill
The poppy has become the emblem of the British war dead, the cornflower (bleuet) is the emblem of the French.

close-up_of_poppies_and_cornflowers_-_geograph-org-uk_-_1337833

There were poppies once
along the bank beneath the hedge,
they cut them down,
the poppies and the blackthorn too
to make it easier for machines
to mow and plough, and all the red
ephemera a memory.

We used to know once why we wept,
and why we praised the countless dead,
those young men who will not grow old,
whose bones lie cold.

Cut down like poppies on the bank ,
they died like heroes in the mud,
so we could start another war
and kill so many millions more.

Red poppies used to grow, they say,
but progress blew them all away.

A splash of red

For the UK, the poppy has become the symbol of the war dead. In France it is the bleuet (cornflower), the nickname given to raw recruits.

Photo ©Andrew Hill

close-up_of_poppies_and_cornflowers_-_geograph-org-uk_-_1337833

A splash of red, a dab of blue,

whichever hue

a symbol rings,

death still stings.

The earth is still, the furrows laid

by plough and spade

are full of bones.

No modern tears will stop the flow

relentless, slow,

lives flown like birds,

killed with weasel words.

Where the end, the peaceful calm,

the air like balm

for ugly wounds?

They whisper low,

the friend and foe,

where in the ground,

without a sound,

the roots dig deep

about their sleep.

The least of them could tell us why

they had to die,

forever lie

in foreign soil.

No flesh, they say, caught on the wire,

is proof against machine gun fire,

against the bullets’ play.

But no one can say.

why they, why then,

why so many men.

Too many broken hearts would break again.

Poppy dreams

1017px-blonskaya_maki

Poppy, poppy burning bright,

Light a soldier home tonight,

Light the way back through the mud,

Through the bones and through the blood.

 

Poppy, poppy, crushed and torn,

On that last momentous morn,

When the guns at last were still,

There were so few men left to kill.

 

Poppy, poppy flaming red,

As the hearts of all the dead,

Red the blood that flows in streams,

Peace the stuff of poppy dreams.

Verdun

Karl_Hagemeister_Mohnfeld

Verdun

A dull, heavy word,

Heavy as mud and thick as blood.

So far away in time mists,

Yet the mud remains,

And the poppies grow at the fields’ edge

With paper petals, and each one

Has a name written at its heart.

 

Verdun,

Un nom lourd et terne,

Lourd comme de la boue

Et sangue-épais.

Si lointain,

Perdu dans les brumes,

Pourtant ça reste, la boue,

Et tout autour les champs ça pousse

Les coquelicots legers, legers,

Comme du papier,

A chaque coeur écrit

Un petit nom.

So many wars

Photo ©Avishai Teicher

©Avi1111 dr. avishai teicher

So many wars after so many years,
So many deaths and so many tears,
So many poppies that blow on the hill,
And still we keep sending our men out to kill.
The poppies that blow in the fields of the Somme,
Are the same as the flowers piled up with aplomb,
On the coffins and graves where our young lives have bled,
In the name of a nation with no tears to shed.

In the long grass

Painting by Maria Oakey Dewing

Maria Oakey Dewing

In the long grass poppies blow,
Glowing embers of summer heat.
Fleet, the failing, fading day,
Stay, the evening star,
Far and bright,
Light in the turquoise sky.
Fly, the southbound birds,
Words in the gusting wind,
Thinned, the leaves in the poplar trees,
Lees of summer wine,
Mine, the last of the nectar sweet.
Fleet the failing, shortened days,
Stays the cold of early morning,
Dawning red where the poppies blow,
Glowing in the late autumn grass.

In the fields of the flat lands

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In the north, in Flanders, where the earth is deep
Are the golden fields where the mud was red
And beneath the crosses hospital white
Lie the broken bones of a million dead.
Now in the flat lands poppies blow
Around the fields where the grain grows high
And a million dreams that flutter still
When the poplar leaves in the north wind sigh.
Dreams of love and life and home
Of a vanished world once full of light
Blow with the breeze and rise with the lark
Dance in the rain running crystal bright.
Over the flat lands the wind from the sea
Sighs through the poplars as it ever has done
Stirring the blood in the deep rich earth
And the dreams of the dead so they dance in the sun.
Now that the din and the dying’s all done
And there are no words left that have not been said
The lark in the high sky still sings its sweet song
And the fields full of poppies remember the dead.

Red poems

This is a poem sequence, inspired by a painting of a Flamenco dancer, one idea leading into another.

Red skirts swirl
Gestures arrogant
Fire to the tips
But her heart flinches
from the avid watchers’
greedy eyes.

814px-Dancers-(1900)-Degas

Red flamenco skirts swirl
Red shoes dance their endless rhythm
Cold eyes watch and appraise
Beneath the glitter of the cruel sun
That beams uncaring
Of the sorrow in her heart.

Red seeps through the earth
Of the cold damp north
In Flanders’ gentle fields
Where red poppies bend their graceful heads
To catch the whisperings of the dead.

1280px-Vonnoh,_Robert_William_-_Poppies_-_Google_Art_Project

War ends
The dead fade
Into weeping memories
But the poppy
Is forever red.

In the west
Red boat clouds sail slowly
Sinking into the fiery sun
Carrying their cargo of souls
Into the dying embers of the day.
Viking sunset.

1280px-Ivan_Fedorovich_Choultsé,_Sailing_boat_at_sunset_on_the_gulf_of_Finland

My green pen draws a red boat
With a cargo of words in its hold
A cargo of shoots and delving roots
A floating forest of stories painted
All the colours of morning.

He scatters the petals of her heart

The sound of the morning, the song of the thrush
And the wind in the poppies that cover the lea.
The breeze sings its songs of the surf on the strand
And the tang on the tongue is the salt from the sea.

In the quiet of morning it called you away
Though you said that your dream would not keep up apart.
The wind from the ocean is cold as my bed
And howls in the hollow where you plucked my heart.

The colours of morning the greens and the gold
The white of the blossom that hung on the tree
And the blood red of petals, scattered and spoiled
By the salt-tangy breeze that blows in from the sea.

©Avi1111 dr. avishai teicher
©Avi1111 dr. avishai teicher