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Remembrance with a Sea of Poppies: Art Installation at Tower of London commemorating the perished soldiers of WWI

Updated on July 27, 2017
annart profile image

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 | Source

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.

Weeping & Waving Goodbye to Life

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Leaping WaveSurging WaveSpurting Wave
Leaping Wave
Leaping Wave | Source
Surging Wave
Surging Wave | Source
Spurting Wave
Spurting Wave | Source

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 & Prison

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Tower of LondonPoppies Flow by Traitors' GateAs it was
The Tower of London
The Tower of London | Source
Poppies Flow by Traitors' Gate
Poppies Flow by Traitors' Gate | Source
As it was
As it was | Source

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........ | Source
....... to Mud
....... to Mud | Source

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 | Source

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

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

Do you wear a poppy?

See results

© 2014 Ann Carr


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    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      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!


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      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.


    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      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 profile image

      SherriDW 3 years ago

      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.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

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


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      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.


    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      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.

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from Perth UK

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

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      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.


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      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.


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      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.


    • chef-de-jour profile image

      Andrew Spacey 3 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      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 profile image

      manatita44 3 years ago from london

      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.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I can't believe this! I was unable to Tweet it because it is over 140 characters. I will try pinning it...

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Oh Ann, this is so beautifully written. How could poppies grow through mud? Amazing! I hope the world will not forget the fallen and learn to avoid war. I will share this on Twitter. I hope the whole world will read this...

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      Thanks, Chris. I do think it so important that we remember. Even more important is that we do something about stopping all this violence; in some ways it seems worse than ever.

      Good to see you here today and thanks for your continued support.


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      Nell: Thank you so much for your wonderful comment. I know it brings mixed feelings to those who've been affected and the feelings don't seem to diminish down the years. My family fared a little better though there were a couple of my mother's cousins who went missing presumed dead. Such a waste of young lives and those who survived were traumatised.

      I appreciate your support and it's great to see you here today.


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      Wow! Thanks, Iris. That's such a wonderful comment and I'm flattered that you liked this so much. I was trying to make the words flow with the 'blood' so I'm glad it worked!

      I think that an emotive subject is easier to write about. One's feelings come out more freely. I had a great day there and enjoyed taking all the photos.

      Much appreciate your visit and the votes etc.


    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 3 years ago from Missoula, Montana at least until August 2018

      What a marvelous way to remember the fallen. Thank you Ann.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Wow, what can I say? that brought tears to my eyes, what a wonderful piece of writing! Being English I sat and watched this on TV over the weeks that it was there, and seeing the people there made it all worthwhile. My grandad was in France in the first world war and got gassed, but survived, but he was ill for ever after that, and died quite young, I never met him. My mum was a Sergeant in the waafs in the second world war, my uncle was a sergeant pilot who flew Lancaster bombers, and sadly died when his plane was shot down, they crashed in Scotland on the way back, he was a hero, they went into a river after hitting a bridge, he survived but went back in to save his crew friend, and died alongside him by drowning. my dad was in the army, this is so close to my family and changed the whole feeling of the family, it still ripples down the years till today. Wonderful, voted up and shared all over, nell

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 3 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Ann, what an amazing article! It was beautifully written. The flow of words with the flow of the cascading poppies from the window made this an inspiring read. It's poetically penned and the images really make it sing.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      Dolores, thank you for your kind words. Yes, it was supposed to be the last but that was forgotten all too quickly. Hence the words on many a war memorial - 'Lest We Forget' - but we still do.

      Will it ever change? I hope so but I'm not holding my breath.

      Thanks for visiting and for your lovely comment.


    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 3 years ago from East Coast, United States

      I heard about this on the radio - how moving. This brought tears to my eyes. The real sadness is that WWI was called The War to End All Wars, but of course, it was not. Your writing here is just beautiful.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      sallybea: Thank you for reading and for your kind comment. It was an amazing sight and I felt privileged to see it, albeit being dismantled.

      Thanks for the visit; much appreciated.


    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      Wonderful! I wish I could have seen this amazing sight. A wonderful tribute for those brave men. Thanks for sharing.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      Hello Colleen. Thank you for your kind comment. There are so many with memories that they want to forget; some let it out and others always keep it within as it is too hard to share. I can understand that; it must have been terrible.

      This art work brought home the innocence and the courage of those soldiers but also the futility of it all. At least they knew what they were fighting for which is not always the case now.

      Thanks for your support.


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      Hello Dora! I'm glad this reached you and thank you so much for your kind words.


    • Colleen Swan profile image

      Colleen Swan 3 years ago from County Durham

      Thank you for this moving memory. The village where I live lost over 70 men from a population of 300. My Dad was in the Second World War, tank core North Africa. He never talked about it; Never.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Very touching! During our Caribbean schooldays we celebrated "Poppy Day" without investing any of ourselves. There was no Internet back then to fill us in with the sights that made it real. This article reached me. Thank you.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      Twilight Lawns: Thank you so much for your lovely words. I'm so glad I brought the scene closer to you. What a shame you haven't been able to see it.

      You're sort of in my neck of the woods where I grew up, though it was further south near Brighton (north of the Downs). Although I'm not that keen on London it has its good points and I spent a great day there, including seeing the poppies. Used to go up for theatre etc.

      I smiled when I saw your name in the notification and thought, 'that's a name I haven't seen in a while'. I'll be over to your profile to read something of yours.

      Lovely to see you today!


    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 3 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      Annart, what a beautiful hub. Poetic and emotional, and Oh so very readable. I have clicked every button except for the "Funny" one and I can assure you I have only used "Awesome" about four or maybe five times since I joined HubPages four years ago.

      I live only about ten miles from the Tower of London, and would have loved to have seen the display, but unfortunately I am wheelchair bound for much "getting around" and it would have been almost impossible for me.

      However, you splendid Hub brought me so much closer to the installation, emotionally, and I thank you so much for that.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, DDE, for your lovely comment, compliment and the votes.

      Yes, the poppies symbolise so much and they are truly beautiful in their wild setting too. Good to see you today.


    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Great photos! The Poppies are beautiful and symbolizes more than I had ever known. A perfectly written hub. Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      Frank: 'the corners and then some' - I love that! Thank you so much for your great comment and the vote. Glad you liked this.


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      Flourish: Thank you so much and thanks for sharing. I'm glad you liked this and I appreciate your continued support. Good to see you today.


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      Faith, you're lovely; thank you for such a wonderful comment. Yes, it was indeed emotional, even though some of it had already been dismantled.

      The fact that the sun suddenly appeared for us made it even more poignant.

      I appreciate your continued support and thank you for the votes.


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      Rachel: Thanks for your kind comment. Yes, the poppy was the original symbol that has now come to be used for all wars since. Many memorials then and now have those words 'Lest We Forget' engraved upon them but unfortunately people do forget. The old fashioned 'lest' seems to give it more gravitas, 'in case' we forget - trouble is, many do!

      Good to see you today.


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, Jo, for your lovely comments. I'll certainly take a look at your hub poem.

      It really is an emotive sight, despite the fact that some of the poppies had already gone. In some ways, the mud and damage left brought home the reality of the killing fields. I think that was part of the artist's idea of the transience of humanity and the effect of war.

      Good to see you today.


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      John Messingham: Thank you for your kind comment. Interesting that you're a veteran yourself; I have nothing but admiration for all soldiers who have served for their country.

      I appreciate your visit.


    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      this is the second one of these i have read and annart... simply wonderful... you covered the corners and then some.. I had to research true crazy facts to see if the poppies did come up... voted awesome

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Astounding. There is little more I can say about your fine hub that others have not already said. Sharing.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Oh, Ann, what a dramatic and heartrending article here, coupled with your stunning photos of the poppies, is superb. I can imagine just how overwhelming it must have been to be there in person to see such amazing art and the powerful emotions it evokes.

      This is one fine allegory article indeed!

      Up ++++ tweeting, pinning, G+ and sharing

    • RachaelOhalloran profile image

      Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

      I read John McCrae's poem long ago and whenever I think of Flanders' Field, I think of his poem. It was nice to see it here along with your well written, but yet very emotional article. WWI was the only war to associate with poppies and no other war has done so since.

      'Lest we not forget ...

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Ann, those poppies were absolutely mind blowing. The artistic representation of a blood swept land, brought the horrors of war up close and personal. You did a marvellous job of conveying the emotive nature of this incredible work of art and sadness of war.

      I updated an old hub with some new poem for remembrance day, if you have the time please take a look, it's 'Poems For Remembrance Day: Where The Scarlet River Flows."

      Exceptional writing.

    • John Messingham profile image

      John Messingham 3 years ago from East Kilbride, Scotland

      Lovely hub about a very moving art installation.

      As a veteran myself, I always wear a poppy as a mark of respect to direct family members and members of my army family who paid the ultimate price.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      Yes, I know it's true; in fact it was in Flanders Fields, like the poem relates.

      It's just that it sounded like a lovely explanation for a child when you mentioned it! Thanks for the feedback.


    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I just looked it up, and apparently the story is true. The poppies did spring up from the bloody ruins of Flanders Field:

      Odd that I would remember that from so long ago.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      Will, thank you so much for your lovely comment. I love that story of the poppies; never heard it before so I must add that to my notes!


    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      This is a superb piece of writing! Well done.

      As a small boy, I remember Poppy Day here in the US. I was told that the killing fields in Europe roiled the earth, and poppies sprang up out of the ruined land, creating the custom.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      Wow! Thank you so much, bill. That is praise indeed and your praise is worth so much to me because I know you don't b.s!

      And a brilliant from you! I'm honoured and humbled.

      This hub is one reason I went to London yesterday; for the photos!

      Thanks too for the link :))

      Have a wonderful evening!


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      mactavers: Thank you for your kind comments.

      Art does indeed speak to the emotions. This is a fine example of a brilliant installation.

      Good to meet you. I'm off to look at your profile.

      I appreciate you reading this and commenting.


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      And of course I linked this to my allegory article....the perfect example.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, you are such a beautiful writer. Seriously, this is exquisite work. The personification of things like wind, chill, and rain is perfect. Bringing to life inanimate know what I'm going to say, don't you?


      When you write like this you have few equals.


    • mactavers profile image

      mactavers 3 years ago

      A fine Hub. Art does have the power to provoke so many emotions and those who fought on all sides need to remembered for their love of their countries and courage.


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