Words by Jessica Peace
In 1915 Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae wrote the poem, ‘In Flanders Fields’ where he gestures to poppies that grow over soldier’s graves. Apparently McCrae tossed his poem in the bin but his mates found it and it was published in the English Magazine, ‘Punch’ that year. It’s because of McCrae that we’ve been pinning poppies to our shirts since 1921 in remembrance.
‘Misfortune’s victim hails, with many a sigh, / Thee, scarlet Poppy of the pathless field, / … Thou flimsy, showy, melancholy weed.’ Many a romantic poet and author in the nineteenth century puffed on a poppy seed, bringing new meaning to the flower in literature like Anna Seward’s, ‘Sonnet: To the Poppy’.
In the 80’s Peter Nichols and Monty Norman wrote the comedy musical, ‘Poppy’. They manage to squeeze in Queen Vic, Dick Whittington and a Chinese Emperor, here old Vicky calls the poppy the ‘Bounty of the Earth’.