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Remembrance With a Sea of Poppies: Art Installation at Tower of London Commemorating Perished Soldiers of World War I

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Ann is keen to use history as a basis for writing, to remind us that war & conflict can (usually) be replaced by discussion & understanding.

A Flowing Reminder

Marching & Flowing, Flowing & Marching

Marching & Flowing, Flowing & Marching

A Sea of Poppies

A Weeping Window cried a cascade of blood into the moat creating a Wave crashing over the instant graves of so many fallen.

Each drop marched as it flowed in this sea of poppies, dancing, marching, marching, dancing, flowing along on the wave of death, destruction, dedication and bravery. The river of blood wound its way round the moat, to be met by the continuing cascade from the weeping window, eternally flowing on and on towards its destiny.

The beauty of so many lives shone on the swaying ceramic surfaces row on row, each one added day by day, following the flow, each one added an innocent being with love and bravery in his heart, love in the hearts of mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, brothers and sisters, until the moat was full.

Those innocent beings had been killed abroad, some in lands far away, far from their families, far from the comfort and love of their homes. Most were young and afraid but all were fighting for their country in muddy trenches full of stench and hacked limbs.


Death & Tears

The masses flocked to see this moat of blood filled from the weeping window, rising to a crescendo fueled by life-destroying wars. They gazed from the high walls above the moat, across to an even higher fortress built not only to shelter people from those wars but also to house the soldiers who fought centuries before, some imprisoned before execution because they were on the wrong side.

There were tears in the eyes of old and young. There was wonder in their eyes at the sight which met their gaze. The blood-mass flowed and bobbed around the moat, jostling as it surged forward to meet its fate, shouting at them to remember, daring them to take the message with them, to spread the unspoken words radiating, pulsing like a bursting, compassed star.


Wind, Chill & Rain

Wind herself whipped up this sea of blood, whipped the sight into the eyes of all who stood there, whipped the air down, around, up and beyond, playing her part in spreading the word.

Chill added his tuppence-worth, sending his message into the hearts of those who realised what sacrifices had been made for them, realised how many of their own ancestors had perished for the hope of a saner world.

Rain added her tears to the blood which, nevertheless, didn’t dilute but remained strong, resolute and resistant. No challenge could change its course nor mollify its purpose.

Life & Memory

Life stood atop the highest tower of the fortress. He peered across the scene, gazed on this structure, this changing, breathing, growing structure below. He thought,

‘Why do these people want to remember such destruction?’

A second being shimmered to his side,

‘Because they are using me to erase the action, to make sure it never happens again.’

‘But it is happening, in so many places. All this destruction through hate and hunger for power, through malicious greed and murder, sending the young to die.’

Scroll to Continue

Memory replied, ‘Watch what happens tomorrow.’


Night rose as usual and, following Destiny, gave way to Dawn.


Blood Seeps Away

Blood........

Blood........

....... to Mud

....... to Mud

Blood, Mud & Living Memory

Sure enough, slowly, one by one, hour by hour, day by day, each reflective poppy disappeared until only the weeping window and the wave were left. Each shining part of those also eventually vanished, fading into the distant memory as the days lengthened to weeks, months and years. The blood had gone, the marching, pulsing, flowing blood had dispersed, seeped into the mud. Each drop of life energy had been taken away - but not to perish.

Each ceramic belonged to a heart which held it close, remembered, kept the memory of one person alive and as long as that memory was alive, so was the possibility of bringing such destruction to an end.

Life and Memory left the scene when the last poppy disappeared, not to wash their hands of them, but to follow the journey of each as it inspired those generations who lived on.


Symbolism of the Poppy

Why do poppies symbolise remembrance? Here is an explanation:

Poem by John McCrae (May 1915)

'In Flanders' Fields'

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.

Each a Living Memory

Lives Remembered amidst the Autumn leaves

Lives Remembered amidst the Autumn leaves

Change for a more Peaceful World

Look upon the lives lost and the memories of those who remain. Look upon those bright poppies with hope and determination to sustain those memories, to endeavour to change track, to change the flow, to a peaceful world.


Lest We Forget!

All the Fallen

Poppies were originally worn to commemorate those who died in the First World War, due to the fact that poppies grew through the mud of the fields where the soldiers died (in Flanders' Fields).

These days they are worn every November around the 11th, Armistice Day, to remember the fallen of every conflict since.


Background to this Hub

This is in response to a suggestion by Bill Holland (billybuc) to write a hub using allegory. You can read his hub at http://billybuc.hubpages.com/hub/Writing-101-The-Beauty-of-the-Allegory.

My attempt is based on an existing structural allegory at the Tower of London called Blood-Swept Lands and Seas of Red, an installation of poppies by the artist Paul Cummins symbolising the blood spilt in wars and portraying the transience of human beings. It is a fascinating artwork and speaks to millions. Each poppy (representing one soldier who died in conflict) has been sold for £25, raising millions for six service charities.

I visited the site recently, as some of the poppies were being taken away (the transient stage), and it pierced me to the core. The air is still, yet full of emotion, much like it is on Flanders’ Fields in France. It seals your lips and suspends your breath; you listen to the dead, heed their message and leave transformed for ever.

The mere fact that there is mud from people's footsteps where the poppies have been removed is symbolic of the mud and trenches on the fields of war.

The sun came out and shone on the surfaces of the poppies; that, to me, symbolised the hope of the future - as long as we don't forget!



The Remembrance Poppy

© 2014 Ann Carr

Comments

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on November 12, 2020:

Thank you, Shauna, for your lovely words. I greatly appreciate your support.

Take care.

Ann

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on November 12, 2020:

Ann, I got here by way of your Armistice Day post after reading Box's (Greg's) response to your comment on his Veteran's Day post. I couldn't comment on either one, so I'm thrilled I can at least do so here.

Ann, this is a very poignant story. I love the voice you give to forces of nature in this article. I can only imagine the strength of emotion you felt when you visited this place and the memorial you mention in the Armistice Day article.

As always, you've touched my heart with your passion and mastery of words.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on December 02, 2014:

Thank you for your visit, teaches, and for your lovely comment.

It is very much a part of our lives here, every November, the more so this year with the anniversary. Much good has come of it as many more youngsters are aware of the history and what it means. Many have been to see this and some have realised for the first time what an impact it had, and still has, on all our lives.

Your support is much appreciated.

Have a great week!

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on December 02, 2014:

SherriDW: Thank you so much for visiting and leaving your kind comment. It's true that we should never forget but it doesn't seem to stop the same kind of things happening over and over.

Thanks again.

Ann

Dianna Mendez on December 01, 2014:

This is a beautiful post on those who fought for a great cause. I remember my dad used to wear a poppy on Veteran's Day long ago. It is nice to know this history of this from a different country.

SherriDW on December 01, 2014:

Thank you Ann for sharing this wonderful allegory and alerting me to the details of this great piece of art. Hopefully we will never forget the costs, toils, and expense of lives that war brings.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on November 23, 2014:

Thanks, Alicia, for visiting and for your lovely comments.

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on November 23, 2014:

Adventuretravels: Yes it is sad but at the same time brings some hope that this reminder, by way of beautiful art, might make a difference in people's hearts.

Thanks for reading and leaving your meaningful comment. I appreciate your visit.

Ann

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on November 22, 2014:

This is a beautiful hub, Ann. It's a very moving reminder of the tragic loss of life in World War One. The photos are impressive, too.

Giovanna from UK on November 22, 2014:

This really does make me sad. It's a poignant and chilling thing to behold. Lest we forget. Peace on earth!

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on November 22, 2014:

chef-de-jour: Thank you so much. Yes it was all very moving, all the coverage on the television. That made me want to see some of it before it all disappeared. I'm so glad I got those photos and the experience will stay with me until the day I die.

Good to see you here today.

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on November 22, 2014:

manatita: Thank you so much for your wonderfully kind comments.

I too saw it all on tv. It was the picture of the start of dismantling it all that made me think I wanted to see it before it all disappeared, so that's what I did.

Thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate your support so much.

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on November 22, 2014:

always exploring: You are so kind; that's such an amazing comment for which I thank you with all my heart.

The poppies did indeed grow through the mud on Flanders' Fields; I think such hardy plants tend to grow through just about anything once established in the earth. The fact that they were the colour of blood made sure they were adopted as the symbol of such sacrifice.

Thanks for reading and for sharing this. Much appreciated.

Ann

Andrew Spacey from Sheffield, UK on November 22, 2014:

Thank you Ann, a beautifully presented article with your own photographs, an allegorical story and a poem rooted in the Great War experience. Poppies have long played their symbolic role in remembrance, profoundly reminding us all of the devastating effects of war. I watch them fall on the soldiers at the end of the Remembrance Sunday service in the Albert Hall, a snow of death and life.

Votes and a share.

manatita44 from london on November 22, 2014:

Well Ann,

Those of us who live here saw how impressive it was on T.V. You write of this very well and present both a sad and wonderful picture. The poem is one of pure inspiration and your account was excellent! Much peace.