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Nov 11 2012

Poppy

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 -

Remember

24 comments

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  1. 1
  2. 2
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    I often post Wilfred Owen on Nov 11. I’m not happy with the demand to “take up our quarrel with the foe”. That’s not how you get peace.

  3. 3
    johnthedrunkard

    After almost a century of revisionist insistence that WWI was the responsibility of everything on earth EXCEPT the Germans, the current consensus among non red-diaper types is that, yes indeed, the Germans were intending to conquer France in order to gain a free hand colonizing the agricultural lands of eastern Europe.

    It would have been lovely to stop them with diplomacy or moral suasion. In real life it ended up taking a horrible, nearly unwinnable war that broke western civilization and laid the ground for the next failure of diplomacy and moral suasion.

  4. 4
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @ Alethea H. “Crocoduck” Dundee :

    Such as this one? :

    Dulce Et Decorum Est

    Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
    Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
    Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
    And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
    Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
    But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
    Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
    Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
    GAS ! GAS! Quick boys! – An ectasy of fumbling,
    Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
    But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
    And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
    Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
    As under a green sea I saw him drowning.

    In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
    He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
    If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
    Behind the wagon we flung him in,
    And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
    His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
    If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
    Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
    Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
    Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, -

    My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
    To children ardent for some desperate glory,
    The old Lie : Dulce et decorum est
    Pro patria mori.

    - Wilfred Owen.

    Latin phrase meaning if possibly unreliable memory serves, something like “It is a good and noble thing to die for one’s country.”

    I remember being blown away by that and other Owen poems as a high school student. He is one of my favourite poets too. See :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilfred_Owen

    From whence :

    Owen was killed in action on 4 November 1918 during the crossing of the Sambre–Oise Canal, exactly one week (almost to the hour) before the signing of the Armistice and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant the day after his death. His mother received the telegram informing her of his death on Armistice Day, as the church bells were ringing out in celebration.

    for those who don’t know already.

  5. 5
    Avicenna

    Oh I do know. Even the Flanders Field poem is ultimately sad because it shows the kind of attitude people had. Glorifying war and death.

    I think I am going to stay in and watch Blackadder Goes Forth all day.

  6. 6
    brucegee1962

    From what I’ve read and heard, it wasn’t quite as straightforward as the Germans wanting to conquer Eastern Europe. The German High Command saw that Russia was on a trajectory that would make her unstoppable within a decade or so. They wanted to stop her rise while they still could. They were well aware that the war might destroy European civilization, but that was a price they were willing to pay.

  7. 7
    Argle Bargle

    johnthedrunkard #3

    After almost a century of revisionist insistence that WWI was the responsibility of everything on earth EXCEPT the Germans, the current consensus among non red-diaper types is that, yes indeed, the Germans were intending to conquer France in order to gain a free hand colonizing the agricultural lands of eastern Europe.

    No. Until 1961 mainstream historians believed Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination precipitated Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war against Serbia. This caused the Triple Alliance (Germany and Austria but minus Italy) and the Triple Entente (France, Russia and Britain) to declare war on each other, starting World War I.

    In 1961 German historian Fritz Fischer published Griff nach der Weltmacht: Die Kriegzielpolitik des kaiserlichen Deutschland 1914–1918 (published in English as Germany’s Aims in the First World War), in which he argued that the German High Command and civil government had deliberately instigated the First World War in an attempt, as brucegee1962 says in #6, to prevent Russia from overtaking Germany as a world power. Fischer argued that various pressure groups within German society had ambitions for an aggressive imperialist policy in Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Fischer argued that the German government deliberately and consciously used the crisis occasioned by the Sarajevo assassination to execute preformulated plans for a war against France and Russia in order to create Mitteleuropa, a German-dominated Europe, and Mittelafrika, a German-dominated Africa. Though Fischer argued that the German government did not want a war with Britain at that moment, they were fully prepared to run the risk in pursuit of Mitteleuropa and Mittelafrika.

    American historian David Fromkin, in his book Europe’s Last Summer: Who Started The Great War in 1914? expanded on Fischer’s arguments by pointing out there were two wars started in 1914: one of Austria-Hungary against Serbia, and one of Germany against Russia and France.

    Austria wanted to strengthen its position in the Balkans by crushing Serbia; it was also concerned that the sight of an independent Serbia might encourage Austria’s Southern Slavic nations to aspire towards independence as well. The assassination provided the Austrians with a good pretext to start the war on Serbia. Vienna’s ultimatum was never meant to resolve the crisis by diplomatic means. There was the possibility that Russia would act in defense of Serbia, and Austria did not want to risk a war with Russia; but after Germany gave Austria the famous “blank check” (a promise to support Austria no matter what Austria decided to do) the Austrians commenced the war against Serbia.

    The German General Staff wanted to start a war against Russia. They felt that, since Russia was so much more populous than Germany, it would inevitably eclipse Germany as the main military and economic power on the European continent as soon as it modernized its economy. The head of the General Staff, von Moltke the Younger (known to his detractors as Moltke the Lesser), had laid out these concerns in a 1910 conference with Kaiser Wilhelm and Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg. These concerns about Russia were probably unjustified. However Moltke and others felt that a war was inevitable and it was better to start it now rather than later. Since Russia had an alliance with France, both countries would have to be fought. The Germans didn’t feel strong enough to take on both Russia and France and Austria was the only ally it could reasonably rely on. Thus Germany had to maintain good relations with Austria and try to uphold Austria’s status as a great power. In fact Austria wasn’t terribly reliable either, as previous experience had shown (it didn’t support Germany during the Second Moroccan crisis a few years earlier). Thus Germany had to basically trick Austria into a situation where Austria would start a war on its own initiative and in its own interest (the war against Serbia, as it turned out in 1914), but the war would then be redirected into the one that Germany wanted to fight, i.e. against Russia.

    When favorable circumstances occurred in July 1914, this is indeed what happened. Austria started its war against Serbia thinking that, since Germany is backing Austria, Russia wouldn’t get involved. But the Germans made sure that Russia couldn’t stay out of the war, and once this started the Austrians had no choice but to use most of their army against Russia rather than for their own war against Serbia. (Austria did fight some initial skirmishes against the Serbs, but suffered serious defeats.)

    Incidentally, Fischer and Fromkin were the revisionists, not the pre-1961 historians.

  8. 8
    sheila

    I don’t know enough to comment about WWI, but I’m very glad that Hitler didn’t win WWII, and I’m very grateful to all the people that made him lose.

  9. 9
    Pierce R. Butler

    And there are still Americans stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq, trying to believe that they are protecting US freedoms. :-(

  10. 10
    Avicenna

    There are british people too…

    They signed up to protect american (or british) freedom. However their leaders decided to misuse their good intentions. The job they do is frankly amazing.

    They are still doing their job. And that is all you can really expect. It’s not as easy as that.

    We don’t consider the modern soldier as his WW1 and 2 predecessor because we think that volunteering and/or career soldiery isn’t a sacrifice. Let’s not make today about Afghanistan or Iraq when it is meant to be a day to remember the cost of war.

    If more people remembered the cost we would be less gung ho to go to war.

  11. 11
    otranreg

    Wait, shouldn’t it go ‘In Flanders fields the poppies smack’?

  12. 12
    coragyps

    @ StevoR:

    Find War Requiem by Benjamin Britten – though I doubt the whole thing is on YouTube. It consists of Mr. Owen’s poetry woven into a Mass for the Dead – and even if you are not a “classical” music fan, it will make the hair of your neck stand straight up. For a day or two after listening.

    Owen needs to be required reading for fourteen-year-olds.

  13. 13
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    I also personally find Christmas in the Trenches to also be appropriate this time of year.

  14. 14
    had3

    My Vietnam veteran father preferred A.E. Housman’s Grenadier.

  15. 15
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    The War Requiem is AMAZING. I’ve sung it once, but it’s not performed enough. I’m also fond of Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem, which uses Walt Whitman poetry.

    Word over all, beautiful as the sky,
    Beautiful that war and all its deeds of carnage must in time be utterly lost,
    That the hands of the sisters Death and Night incessantly softly wash again,
    and ever again, this soil’d world;

  16. 16
    Jessie

    One of my great uncles was killed in the first few months of the war. My grandmother told me that he was only fourteen years old, but had lied about his age, so desperate was he to fight for his country. His date of birth is not shown on his grave.

  17. 17
    Nomen Nescio

    The pipes in the streets were playing bravely,
    The marching lads went by
    With merry hearts and voices singing
    My friends marched out to die;
    But I was hearing a lonely pibroch
    Out of an older war,
    Farewell, farewell, farewell, MacCrimmon,
    MacCrimmon comes no more.’

    And every lad in his heart was dreaming
    Of honour and wealth to come,
    And honour and noble pride were calling
    To the tune of the pipes and drum;
    But I was hearing a woman singing
    On dark Dunvegan shore,
    In battle or peace, with wealth or honour,
    MacCrimmon comes no more.’

    And there in front of the men were marching
    With feet that made no mark,
    The grey old ghosts of the ancient fighters
    Come back again from the dark;
    And in front of them all MacCrimmon piping
    A weary tune and sore,
    On gathering day, for ever and ever,
    MacCrimmon comes no more.’

    Ewart Alan Mackintosh (1893-1917)

  18. 18
    seppomannisto

    One summer evening drunk to hell
    I stood there nearly lifeless
    An old man in the corner sang
    Where the water lilies grow
    And on the jukebox johnny sang
    About a thing called love
    And it’s how are you kid and what’s your name
    And how would you bloody know?
    In blood and death ‘neath a screaming sky
    I lay down on the ground
    And the arms and legs of other men
    Were scattered all around
    Some cursed, some prayed, some prayed then cursed
    Then prayed and bled some more
    And the only thing that I could see
    Was a pair of brown eyes that was looking at me
    But when we got back, labeled parts one to three
    There was no pair of brown eyes waiting for me

    Shane MacGowan (Pogues : Pair of Brown Eyes)

  19. 19
    dm

    a or b you HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH CRITICAL THINKING join the socialist faith http://s1.zetaboards.com/LooseChangeForums/topic/4979676/1/#new #atheist

  20. 20
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    dm

    Why are you spamming the comment threads here with your irrelevant nonsense post? If you have a point and want to engage people, then you must actually engage them, and in appropriate comment threads. (IOW, fuck off.) Critical thinking seems to be unavailable to you, given your fractally stupid posts.

  21. 21
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Anyway. Remember.

  22. 22
    Sam Firkins

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    www.torontohg.com

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