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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow.....

I have written this post several times and deleted it several times. I just have to accept I am not an eloquent writer.

Last week I was watching an episode of the BBC4 serial 1914-1918, at one point it showed footage of men affected by shell shock. Apparently the footage has not been seen for over 80 years and was filmed in hospitals. One man couldn't bear to look at an officiers hat, another when hearing a loud bang just jumped under his bed. It was perhaps some of the most disturbing TV I have ever watched.

I have mentioned before on this blog the excellent film The Best Years of Our Lives. If you have never watched it drop everything get a copy and do. It tells of three American serviceman returning home after WWII to their small town. It is deeply moving and I think shows why Americans and Europeans misunderstand each other.

The small town didn't understand what the serviceman had gone through. The American pysche is not scarred, I listened many times to stories of the blitz, of doodle bugs and the V2 from my parents and grandparents. The French, Germans and Russians have seen their countries devastated. War to them is not something that happens overseas far away its something that is personal. It explains the differing attitudes to Iraq and foreign intervention between mainland Europe and the US.

This was brought home to me against recently when watchng the excellent World at War series. I can only echo the sentiments of one of the youtube commentors

the first 90 seconds stands as one of the most powerful sequences ever written for television.

This must not happen again. Today of all days we should remember those whatever their nationality, race or relgion have paid the utimate sacrifice so that we could sit here today.

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.

John McCrae


Tricia said...

Wikipediat defines "Eloquence" as such:
Eloquence (from Latin eloquentia) is fluent, forcible, elegant or persuasive speaking in public. It is primarily the power of expressing strong emotions in striking and appropriate language, thereby producing conviction or persuasion. The term is also used for writing in a fluent style. Don't believe you have anything to concern yourself about regarding eloquence!!.

That was a very powerful and incredibly moving piece of film. And, yes, wars should never, ever, happen again!

oldcrow61 said...

And even today, right this second, there are people being slaughtered in wars. In my estimation, we haven't learned much.

Anna said...

I did an essay on that poem for GCSE English literature at school. Got an A+ on it too, IIRC.

We did a lot on war poetry. It was fascinating, because I'd never really looked at both sides of it before, the "romantic" side and the "realistic" side. I've never forgotten it.

I'm with OC, it seems that as a species we can't overcome our evolutionary history and stop killing each other. And we call ourselves civilised.

diddums said...

Mum and I saw that clip on TV too, very bad. Samson (the cat) was watching the faces in the flames (from the theme)... wonder what he was thinking, if he even knew what it was.

I saw a lot of things in that series that shook me... like when they were panning round the faces of smiling folks with learning difficulties and such. Their families loved them, even if the state didn't.