In Flanders Fields And Other Poems

BOOK: In Flanders Fields And Other Poems
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by John McCrae


In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae

[Canadian Poet, 1872-1918]

With an Essay in Character by Sir Andrew Macphail

[This text is taken from the New York edition of 1919.]

[Note on text: Italicized stanzas are indented 5 spaces. Italicized words or phrases are capitalized. Some slight errors have been corrected.]


John McCrae, physician, soldier, and poet, died in France a Lieutenant-Colonel with the Canadian forces.

The poem which gives this collection of his lovely verse its name has been extensively reprinted, and received with unusual enthusiasm.

The volume contains, as well, a striking essay in character by his friend, Sir Andrew Macphail.


{Although The Poem Itself Is Included Shortly, Thi...

{Although the poem itself is included shortly, this next section is included for completeness, and to show John McCrae's punctuation -- also to show that I'm not the only one who forgets lines. -- A. L.}


In Flanders fields the poppies grow 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.

John McCrae

{From a} Facsimile of an autograph copy of the poem "In Flanders Fields"

This was probably written from memory as "grow" is used in place of "blow" in the first line.

In Flanders Fields


The Anxious Dead 1917

The Warrior 1907

Isandlwana 1910

The Unconquered Dead 1906

The Captain 1913

The Song of the Derelict 1898

Quebec 1908

Then and Now 1896

Unsolved 1895

The Hope of My Heart 1894

Penance 1896

Slumber Songs 1897

The Oldest Drama 1907

Recompense 1896

Mine Host 1897

Equality 1898

Anarchy 1897

Disarmament 1899

The Dead Master 1913

The Harvest of the Sea 1898

The Dying of Pere Pierre 1904

Eventide 1895

Upon Watts' Picture "Sic Transit" 1904

A Song of Comfort 1894

The Pilgrims 1905

The Shadow of the Cross 1894

The Night Cometh 1913

In Due Season 1897

John McCrae An Essay in Character by Sir Andrew Macphail

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.

O Guns, Fall Silent Till The Dead Men He...

O guns, fall silent till the dead men hear Above their heads the legions pressing on: (These fought their fight in time of bitter fear, And died not knowing how the day had gone.)

O flashing muzzles, pause, and let them see The coming dawn that streaks the sky afar; Then let your mighty chorus witness be To them, and Caesar, that we still make war.

Tell them, O guns, that we have heard their call, That we have sworn, and will not turn aside, That we will onward till we win or fall, That we will keep the faith for which they died.

Bid them be patient, and some day, anon, They shall feel earth enwrapt in silence deep; Shall greet, in wonderment, the quiet dawn, And in content may turn them to their sleep.

He Wrought In Poverty, The Dull Grey Day...

He wrought in poverty, the dull grey days, But with the night his little lamp-lit room Was bright with battle flame, or through a haze Of smoke that stung his eyes he heard the boom Of Bluecher's guns; he shared Almeida's scars, And from the close-packed deck, about to die, Looked up and saw the "Birkenhead"'s tall spars Weave wavering lines across the Southern sky:

Or in the stifling 'tween decks, row on row, At Aboukir, saw how the dead men lay; Charged with the fiercest in Busaco's strife, Brave dreams are his -- the flick'ring lamp burns low -- Yet couraged for the battles of the day He goes to stand full face to face with life.

Scarlet Coats, And Crash O' the Ba...

_Scarlet coats, and crash o' the band, The grey of a pauper's gown, A soldier's grave in Zululand, And a woman in Brecon Town._

My little lad for a soldier boy, (Mothers o' Brecon Town!) My eyes for tears and his for joy When he went from Brecon Town, His for the flags and the gallant sights His for the medals and his for the fights, And mine for the dreary, rainy nights At home in Brecon Town.

They say he's laid beneath a tree, (Come back to Brecon Town!) Shouldn't I know? -- I was there to see: (It's far to Brecon Town!) It's me that keeps it trim and drest With a briar there and a rose by his breast -- The English flowers he likes the best That I bring from Brecon Town.

And I sit beside him -- him and me, (We're back to Brecon Town.) To talk of the things that used to be (Grey ghosts of Brecon Town); I know the look o' the land and sky, And the bird that builds in the tree near by, And times I hear the jackals cry, And me in Brecon Town.

_Golden grey on miles of sand The dawn comes creeping down; It's day in far off Zululand And night in Brecon Town._

The Unconquered Dead

". . . defeated, with great loss."

Not we the conquered! Not to us the blame Of them that flee, of them that basely yield; Nor ours the shout of victory, the fame Of them that vanquish in a stricken field.

That day of battle in the dusty heat We lay and heard the bullets swish and sing Like scythes amid the over-ripened wheat, And we the harvest of their garnering.

Some yielded, No, not we! Not we, we swear By these our wounds; this trench upon the hill Where all the shell-strewn earth is seamed and bare, Was ours to keep; and lo! we have it still.

We might have yielded, even we, but death Came for our helper; like a sudden flood The crashing darkness fell; our painful breath We drew with gasps amid the choking blood.

The roar fell faint and farther off, and soon Sank to a foolish humming in our ears, Like crickets in the long, hot afternoon Among the wheat fields of the olden years.

Before our eyes a boundless wall of red Shot through by sudden streaks of jagged pain! Then a slow-gathering darkness overhead And rest came on us like a quiet rain.

Not we the conquered! Not to us the shame, Who hold our earthen ramparts, nor shall cease To hold them ever; victors we, who came In that fierce moment to our honoured peace.

The Captain


_Here all the day she swings from tide to tide, Here all night long she tugs a rusted chain, A masterless hulk that was a ship of pride, Yet unashamed: her memories remain._

It was Nelson in the 'Captain', Cape St. Vincent far alee, With the 'Vanguard' leading s'uth'ard in the haze -- Little Jervis and the Spaniards and the fight that was to be, Twenty-seven Spanish battleships, great bullies of the sea, And the 'Captain' there to find her day of days.

Right into them the 'Vanguard' leads, but with a sudden tack The Spaniards double swiftly on their trail; Now Jervis overshoots his mark, like some too eager pack, He will not overtake them, haste he e'er so greatly back, But Nelson and the 'Captain' will not fail.

Like a tigress on her quarry leaps the 'Captain' from her place, To lie across the fleeing squadron's way: Heavy odds and heavy onslaught, gun to gun and face to face, Win the ship a name of glory, win the men a death of grace, For a little hold the Spanish fleet in play.

Ended now the "Captain"'s battle, stricken sore she falls aside Holding still her foemen, beaten to the knee: As the 'Vanguard' drifted past her, "Well done, 'Captain'," Jervis cried, Rang the cheers of men that conquered, ran the blood of men that died, And the ship had won her immortality.

_Lo! here her progeny of steel and steam, A funnelled monster at her mooring swings: Still, in our hearts, we see her pennant stream, And "Well done, 'Captain'," like a trumpet rings._

Ye Have Sung Me Your Songs, Ye Have Chan...

Ye have sung me your songs, ye have chanted your rimes (I scorn your beguiling, O sea!) Ye fondle me now, but to strike me betimes. (A treacherous lover, the sea!) Once I saw as I lay, half-awash in the night A hull in the gloom -- a quick hail -- and a light And I lurched o'er to leeward and saved her for spite From the doom that ye meted to me.

I was sister to 'Terrible', seventy-four, (Yo ho! for the swing of the sea!) And ye sank her in fathoms a thousand or more (Alas! for the might of the sea!) Ye taunt me and sing me her fate for a sign! What harm can ye wreak more on me or on mine? Ho braggart! I care not for boasting of thine -- A fig for the wrath of the sea!

Some night to the lee of the land I shall steal, (Heigh-ho to be home from the sea!) No pilot but Death at the rudderless wheel, (None knoweth the harbor as he!) To lie where the slow tide creeps hither and fro And the shifting sand laps me around, for I know That my gallant old crew are in Port long ago -- For ever at peace with the sea!



Of old, like Helen, guerdon of the strong -- Like Helen fair, like Helen light of word, -- "The spoils unto the conquerors belong. Who winneth me must win me by the sword."

Grown old, like Helen, once the jealous prize That strong men battled for in savage hate, Can she look forth with unregretful eyes, Where sleep Montcalm and Wolfe beside her gate?

Beneath Her Window In The Fragrant Night...

Beneath her window in the fragrant night I half forget how truant years have flown Since I looked up to see her chamber-light, Or catch, perchance, her slender shadow thrown Upon the casement; but the nodding leaves Sweep lazily across the unlit pane, And to and fro beneath the shadowy eaves, Like restless birds, the breath of coming rain Creeps, lilac-laden, up the village street When all is still, as if the very trees Were listening for the coming of her feet That come no more; yet, lest I weep, the breeze Sings some forgotten song of those old years Until my heart grows far too glad for tears.

Amid My Books I Lived The Hurrying Years...

Amid my books I lived the hurrying years, Disdaining kinship with my fellow man; Alike to me were human smiles and tears, I cared not whither Earth's great life-stream ran, Till as I knelt before my mouldered shrine, God made me look into a woman's eyes; And I, who thought all earthly wisdom mine, Knew in a moment that the eternal skies Were measured but in inches, to the quest That lay before me in that mystic gaze. "Surely I have been errant: it is best That I should tread, with men their human ways." God took the teacher, ere the task was learned, And to my lonely books again I turned.

The Hope Of My Heart

"Delicta juventutis et ignorantius ejus, quoesumus ne memineris, Domine."

I Left, To Earth, A Little Maiden Fair,

With locks of gold, and eyes that shamed the light; I prayed that God might have her in His care And sight.

Earth's love was false; her voice, a siren's song; (Sweet mother-earth was but a lying name) The path she showed was but the path of wrong And shame.

"Cast her not out!" I cry. God's kind words come -- "Her future is with Me, as was her past; It shall be My good will to bring her home At last."


My lover died a century ago, Her dear heart stricken by my sland'rous breath, Wherefore the Gods forbade that I should know The peace of death.

Men pass my grave, and say, "'Twere well to sleep, Like such an one, amid the uncaring dead!" How should they know the vigils that I keep, The tears I shed?

Upon the grave, I count with lifeless breath, Each night, each year, the flowers that bloom and die, Deeming the leaves, that fall to dreamless death, More blest than I.

'Twas just last year -- I heard two lovers pass So near, I caught the tender words he said: To-night the rain-drenched breezes sway the grass Above his head.

That night full envious of his life was I, That youth and love should stand at his behest; To-night, I envy him, that he should lie At utter rest.

Slumber Songs


Sleep, little eyes That brim with childish tears amid thy play, Be comforted! No grief of night can weigh Against the joys that throng thy coming day.

Sleep, little heart! There is no place in Slumberland for tears: Life soon enough will bring its chilling fears And sorrows that will dim the after years. Sleep, little heart!


Ah, little eyes Dead blossoms of a springtime long ago, That life's storm crushed and left to lie below The benediction of the falling snow!

Sleep, little heart That ceased so long ago its frantic beat! The years that come and go with silent feet Have naught to tell save this -- that rest is sweet. Dear little heart.

BOOK: In Flanders Fields And Other Poems
11.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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