More about poppies. So normally my self-appointed task here is to translate all the things I don’t get about living in the States, but today I’m going to spend some time on something you don’t see over here at all. Poppies. Because yesterday I posted a photo of a poppy that looked like this:
When really I should have picked one that looks like one of these:
Can you spot the difference? Well, these ones have FOUR petals and NO LEAF! Imagine. And what’s more (like me) they are Scottish.
Now, when my correspondent AnPedant, pointed out that I’d posted an English rather than a Scottish poppy my first reaction was a tad negative. Something along the lines of – ‘oh God, the Scottish Nats are at it again, desperately trying to be separatist in all areas, appropriate or not.’ And then I was pretty unimpressed that there was an organisation called ‘PoppyScotland’. I grew up with Scotsport and Scotbloc (cooking chocolate) and STV and Scottish Cheddar (just in case we all forgot where we were living maybe?) but I didn’t remember Scottish Poppies. Until I looked at them.
And of course I see now that these are the Scottish poppies of my childhood and they are different from English ones AND, what’s more, they have been since forever. PoppyScotland explains it all very nicely, but here are the main points:
“In 1921 Earl Haig came across a group of French widows who were selling silk poppies on the streets of London, having been inspired by Lt Colonel John McCrae’s iconic poem “In Flanders Field”. Haig recognised the potential of these poppies to become both a symbol of remembrance and also as a means to support the welfare of ex-Servicemen. By 1922 Haig established the first Poppy Factory in Richmond, Surrey, but such was the demand for poppies that few were reaching Scotland. In 1926 his wife, Lady Haig, established a Poppy Factory in Edinburgh to produce poppies exclusively for Scotland.”
So thank you AnPedant, for pointing that out and leading me to find out this little bit of history :). I also read the poem again this morning too. Here it is with a picture of the Canadian doctor/poet who wrote it:
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.