Here's a virtual movie of John McCrae reading his famous WW1 poem "In Flanders Fields" One of the most famous poems written during World War I and has been called " the most popular poem" produced during that period.The sound recording of this great poem which was made probably about 1942 for release on a 78rpm record set is probably the earliest recorded recital.
The poem is written in the form of a French rondeau a form of French poetry with 15 lines written on two rhymes.
Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote it on May 3, 1915 (see 1915 in poetry), after he witnessed the death of his friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, only 22 years old, the day before. The poem was first published on December 8 of that year in the London-based magazine Punch.
Lieutenant Colonel John Alexander McCrae (November 30, 1872 January 28, 1918) was a Canadian poet, physician, author, artist and soldier during World War I and a surgeon during the battle of Ypres. He is best known for writing the famous war memorial poem In Flanders Fields.
McCrae was born in McCrae House in Guelph, Ontario, the grandson of Scottish immigrants. He attended the Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute and became a member of the Guelph militia regiment. The background of his family is military.
Though various legends have developed as to the inspiration for the poem, the most commonly held is that McCrae wrote 'In Flander's Fields' May 3rd 1915, the day after presiding over the funeral and burial of his friend, Lieutenant Alex Helmer who had been killed during the Second Battle of Ypres. The poem was written in as he sat upon the back of a medical field ambulance in the proximity of an advance dressing post at Essex Farm, just north of Ypres. The poppy, which was a central feature of the poem, grew in great numbers in the spoiled earth of the battlefields and cemeteries of Flanders. McCrae had later discarded the poem, but it was saved by a fellow officer and sent into Punch magazine, and published later that year.
McCrae died of pneumonia. He was buried with full honours  in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission section of Wimereux Cemetery, just a couple of kilometres up the coast from Boulogne. McCrae's horse, "Bonfire", led the procession, his master's riding boots reversed in the stirrups. McCrae's gravestone is placed flat, as are all the others, because of the sandy soil.
A collection of his poetry, In Flanders Fields and Other Poems  (1918), was published after his death.
All rights are reserved on this video recording copyright Jim Clark 2008
In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae, May 1915
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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