Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae’s poem is so iconic it needs no help from me. It was written as a rondeau, which means the rhyme scheme makes no sense after the first verse unless you know it’s a rondeau.
I did not know it was a rondeau and went about trying to help it. I thought purely as a literary exercise it might be interesting to write a variation on the original in a different poetical form in the spirit of … um… Mozart’s variations on, Ah vows dirai-je, maman (Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star).
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
They mark the place; we fallen lie
Where larks, still singing, bravely fly
Above the crack of guns below.
We, the Dead, short days ago
Awoke at dawn to muster’s roll
Bound from trenches to the fray
And met our fate as mortal clay
In Flanders Fields where poppies grow.
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’ll ever haunt whose courage yields
Though poppies grow in Flanders fields.