As a disclaimer like a few books I have on my shelves, I have not read this particular edition but it seems the best to use to write the review I wish to.
Today is ANZAC Day in Australia. This is, for those without any Australian background knowledge, the day when we celebrate our Australian and New Zealand soldiers who fought in the World Wars and in more modern wars. We celebrate their courage and we celebrate their loss so that we currently possess what we have gained.
War is not something that has ever touched me personally. I'm not naive enough to suggest that I could ever gain a true insight into war without being touched by it in some way. But what I have seen informs me that war is one of the great tragedies of humanity. One of those times where no one wins out. And yet there are heroic deeds done by individuals, which is something many poets and authors touch upon in their work.
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.
There is another poem, The Ode to Remembrance, often read here on ANZAC Day. A final line is added to conclude this poem, Lest We Forget
. I find this one of the most poetic lines I've heard. It both marks and comments on the fact that poems like In Flanders Fields
reflect that those who die in wars nobly become immortalised, that they have exhibited the spirit of their nation in their patriotism. And yet there is a sense of caution: let us learn from those who now sleep in Flanders fields and across the world as a result of war.
Lest we forget. One of the most potent of all cautions against the repetition of history.