Tag Archive: poppies


I imagine John Clare as a young man walking around the Northamptonshire countryside letting his mind wander and wonder at the same time. He sees the untidiness (what today we might call ‘fractal’) and beauty of nature on the one hand. On the other, seeing a field full of poppies, seeded by nature not by a human farmer, he imagines an army marching “in all the grand array of pomp and power”. He associates the red poppies with the colour of the uniform of the British army. These days I have a different association with red poppies. For all their beauty, it is not with the marching soldiers but toward the fallen ones that my mind leans.

Pleasant Spots

There is a wild and beautiful neglect
About the fields that so delights and cheers
Where nature her own feelings to effect
Is left at her own silent work for years
The simplest thing thrown in our way delights
From the wild careless feature that it wears
The very road that wanders out of sight
Crooked and free is pleasant to behold
And such the very weeds left free to flower
Corn poppys red and carlock gleaming gold
That makes the cornfields shine in summer’s hour
Like painted skys – and fancy’s distant eye
May well imagine armys marching bye
In all the grand array of pomp and power

John Clare (1793-1864)

PS a note on the spelling. I have left it as I found it in “John Clare, selected poems”. Mr Clare was not conventional in either spelling, punctuation or grammar. Great sport is to be had by academics in deciding what to “correct” or not.

888,246

That is British and Colonial service men who lost their lives during World War I. That does not include civilian casualties, nor does it include the Americans, Germans, Russians, French, Belgians, Italians, Japanese, Arabs or Turks to name but a few.

We visited the Tower of London poppies which were still being planted out. There is more information on this link. The poppies have long since sold out.

There has been some controversy between those who see this art work as beautifully poignant and a way of marking our sorrow at the loss of so much human life and those who think that the work does not go far enough in recognising the horror and brutality of war. For the latter, the work is too tame: where are the skulls, the broken bodies, the dismembered limbs, the disfigured lives? They may have a point – somewhere we need to be honest about the terrible suffering that was, and is, real human experience. In that respect, this art installation is no more than a start.

However, judging by the huge crowds that were quiet and very orderly, I would say that the experience of seeing even this drop in the ocean was thought-provoking for many.

Many a memorial has the phrase “Lest we forget”.

Lest we forget their names.

Lest we forget how terrible war is.

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New every morning are your mercies, O Lord, and you renew your blessing to us each day. Help us to remember your goodness and love towards all human kind. As we remember your mercy, help us to strive for peace in our thoughts and words, in our actions and our lives, in our country and in all the world. We pray in the power of your good and holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Lord of Lords and the Prince of peace. Amen.

Midsummer flowers

A few summer flowers and a couple of insects that visited our garden recently:

So I don’t have any photos of either. I don’t know if it is unusual to have both snowdrops and bluebells in a garden at the same time but this year we did. After a harder than usual winter – colder, duller, gloomier – the snowdrops had to combat frost and snow. By the time they appeared the weather had turned round and we had an unseasonably warm Spring – temperatures and sunshine that  would have done any English Summer proud. Although we have had more cloud of late I think it has only rained here twice since the beginning of the month (admitting that we might have slept through night-time rainfall) when typically it rains about half the week.

It has been reported that English strawberries are early this year. That is good news as far as I am concerned as I like them more than apples, for instance. Apparently, the early arrival of the English strawberry might be a concern for the traditional dish at Wimbledon if the season not only arrives a month early but finishes too early as well.

In the meantime our red poppies have flowered. I think they are a bit early too. A couple of photos are included here.

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