Posts Tagged ‘Poppies’

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Last Saturday we went to the Tower of London to view the much heralded installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, commemorating one hundred years since the start of the First World War.

This extraordinary art work by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, in collaboration with stage designer Tom Piper, has captured our nation’s imagination and as we emerged from the underground station at Tower Hill it was apparent that we would not be alone. The place was heaving but well organised, good natured and almost quiet. As we stood on the steps gazing at the spectacle I was able to take a few snaps which I later edited to remove the tops of people’s heads in front of me.  During the summer and until today, 888,246 ceramic poppies have been planted in the moat – each one commemorating a British life lost in the conflict. Now complete, hardly a blade of grass can be seen between this ceramic sea of red: it’s a wonderful yet sobering sight.

The poppies were sold, raising millions of pounds for British service charities, and will later be distributed to their owners once the installation is removed. Originally it was due to be dismantled the day after Armistice Day on 11th November but it’s now rumoured that because of unprecedented public interest part of the display will remain until the end of the month.

Later on the same day, once home and in front of the television, we watched the annual Remembrance Service from the Royal Albert Hall in London. Included this year was a folk song, written and sung by Jim Radford, a veteran of the D-Day landings. Jim was a fifteen year old galley boy on 6th June 1944.  His song is a poignant reminder of the terrible events of that day seventy years ago which helped to turn the tide of war.  It sums up the whole theme of remembrance and is well worth a listen, if you can spare seven minutes.

 

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The following poem is by Thomas Hardy. Entitled ‘The Man he Killed,’ it sums up for me the futility of war and how it affects ordinary people.

Had he and I but met
 By some old ancient inn,
We should have set us down to wet
 Right many a nipperkin!

But ranged as infantry,
And staring face to face,
I shot at him as he at me,
And killed him in his place.

I shot him dead because—
Because he was my foe,
Just so: my foe of course he was;
That’s clear enough; although

He thought he’d ‘list, perhaps,
Off-hand like—just as I—
Was out of work—had sold his traps—
No other reason why.

Yes; quaint and curious war is!
You shoot a fellow down
You’d treat, if met where any bar is,
Or help to half a crown.

(photograph from the Daily Mail archive)

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