Remembrance with a Sea of Poppies: Art Installation at Tower of London commemorating the perished soldiers of WWI
A Flowing Reminder
Weeping & Waving Goodbye to LifeClick thumbnail to view full-size
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.
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.
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.
Fortress & PrisonClick thumbnail to view full-size
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.’
Memory replied, ‘Watch what happens tomorrow.’
Night rose as usual and, following Destiny, gave way to Dawn.
Blood Seeps Away
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.
Each a Living Memory
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!
Copyright annart/AFC 2014
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!
You can find out about the role of The Tower of London during the war by visiting this page http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/stories/firstworldwar
The Remembrance Poppy
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