In some ways it is ironic that John McCrae chose the field poppy as the marker of the battlefield and the horror of warfare. The field poppy had long been seen in folklore as a means of sleep, as a source of opiates it caused drowsiness and was for the Romans a aid to rest and forgetfulness. The field poppy spread across Europe with the Roman armies and where they grew wheat so grew the field poppy.
The poppy thrived in disturbed ground, the short life cycle of the plants meant they could grow flower and set seed in less time than the surrounding wheat crops. By the early twentieth century wheat fields often glowed red with this delicate flower and the ground was filled with millions of seeds ready to grow and bloom at the least disturbance.
In 1914-1918 the great disturbance came as World War One broke out. Flowers of poppies bloomed across the battle scarred landscapes of France and Flanders.
This excerpt from a Charlie Brown animation gives us a nice rendition of the short poem by Dr. John McCrae.
I hope you like it too.