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An Early Remembrance. And a Poem.

It’s a little early for an Armistice Day post, but I was so moved by this short reflection by Jay Copp that I wanted to share it right away. “[World War I] was staggering in its stupidity, its senseless slaughter,” he writes. “It was a testing ground for the horrors of modern warfare: poison gas, no man’s land, massive bombs that destroyed bodies. Did duty to country make it all tolerable?”

And since I’ll be gone for a couple of weeks starting this coming Monday, I reckon now’s as good a time as any to post John McRae’s rondeau in honor of his friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, killed at the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915:

IN FLANDERS FIELDS 

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.



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