Memorial Day Poppies


Shirley Poppies grow in my garden, prosaically in the asparagus bed, and next to the row of cabbages, and intermingled with the chicory. They reseed themselves in all kinds of nooks and crannies, next to the chard and the lettuce – so fragile looking yet so tough … and so tenacious. They were bred in the 1880’s, more than a century ago,  from the wild European field poppy – a weed that grow in the wheat fields and the meadows. A beautiful sight when you are lucky enough to come across a field of them; with increased herbicide use, fields of wild poppies aren’t as frequent as they used to be in, oh say, 1915. Yes,  Flanders poppies are achingly beautiful on Memorial Day.

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.

[…] — Lt.-Col. John McCrae (1872 – 1918)

Les coquelicots ondulent dans les champs de Flandres
Entre les croix, rangs sur rangs,
Qui marquent notre place; et dans le ciel
Les alouettes, chantant obstinément, virevoltent;
On les entend à peine parmi les canons tonnants.

Nous sommes les morts. Hier encore,
Vivants à l’aube, admirants le soleil couchant;
Nous aimions et étions aimés,

Et maintenant, nous gisons

Dans les champs de Flandres.

[…] — Ma traduction

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