On the 17th of July the centuries long-dry moat at the Tower of London began to be filled once more but with waves and waves of poppies. At 11am on the 11th of November the 888,246th poppy will be placed, one for every British and Colonial soldier who lost their lives in World War I, as a mark of remembrance for the dead and commemoration of the centenary this year.
‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’, designed and crafted by the stage designer Tom Piper and ceramic artist Paul Cummins, is an awe inspiring spectacle. The poppies flow in a tide of red around the tower and over the heads of the millions of visitors from all over the world who have come to see the display and pay their respects.
The scarlet corn poppy is the variety that is most familiar to us, its bright red petals and distinctive black stamen standing out on the shirts of millions of people all over the UK every Novemeber. It is a flower that has a long association with war and rememberance. It has grown for for centuries out of the broken earth in the wake of wars across France, Germany, England and wider in Europe, the only flower to colour otherwise barren, lifeless battlefields. It is a hardy flower that can grow in places of devastation and endure, qualities which have made it a beautiful symbol of resilience and hope.
John McCrae was the first to recognise its evocative power of remembrance in connection with war, in his poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ written in the midst of World War I and it was adopted by the Royal British Legion as their symbol at their formation in 1921.
As they were planted by hand, one by one, so they will be picked and sent to charitable buyers all over the world. All 888,246 poppies will remain in place for just the one very important day. It is a very moving sight that has not just captured the eyes but the hearts of London, and people all over the world.
(Image source: Timeout.com)