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McCrae, John

· John McCrae: The Anxious Dead · John McCrae: Then And Now · John McCrae: The Oldest Drama · John McCrae: Anarchy · John McCrae: In Flanders fields

John McCrae: The Anxious Dead

John McCrae

(1872 – 1918)

The Anxious Dead


O guns, fall silent till the dead men hear

Above their heads the legions pressing on:

(These fought their fight in time of bitter fear,

And died not knowing how the day had gone.)


O flashing muzzles, pause, and let them see

The coming dawn that streaks the sky afar;

Then let your mighty chorus witness be

To them, and Caesar, that we still make war.


Tell them, O guns, that we have heard their call,

That we have sworn, and will not turn aside,

That we will onward till we win or fall,

That we will keep the faith for which they died.


Bid them be patient, and some day, anon,

They shall feel earth enwrapt in silence deep;

Shall greet, in wonderment, the quiet dawn,

And in content may turn them to their sleep.


John McCrae poetry poetry magazine

More in: Archive C-D, McCrae, John

John McCrae: Then And Now

John McCrae

(1872 – 1918)

Then And Now


Beneath her window in the fragrant night

I half forget how truant years have flown

Since I looked up to see her chamber-light,

Or catch, perchance, her slender shadow thrown

Upon the casement; but the nodding leaves

Sweep lazily across the unlit pane,

And to and fro beneath the shadowy eaves,

Like restless birds, the breath of coming rain

Creeps, lilac-laden, up the village street

When all is still, as if the very trees

Were listening for the coming of her feet

That come no more; yet, lest I weep, the breeze

Sings some forgotten song of those old years

Until my heart grows far too glad for tears.


John McCrae poetry poetry magazine

More in: Archive C-D, McCrae, John

John McCrae: The Oldest Drama

John McCrae

(1872 – 1918)

The Oldest Drama


“It fell on a day, that he went out to his father to the reapers.

And he said unto his father, My head, my head. And he said to a lad,

Carry him to his mother. And . . . he sat on her knees till noon,

and then died. And she went up, and laid him on the bed. . . .

And shut the door upon him and went out.”


Immortal story that no mother’s heart

Ev’n yet can read, nor feel the biting pain

That rent her soul! Immortal not by art

Which makes a long past sorrow sting again


Like grief of yesterday: but since it said

In simplest word the truth which all may see,

Where any mother sobs above her dead

And plays anew the silent tragedy.


John McCrae poetry poetry magazine

More in: Archive C-D, McCrae, John

John McCrae: Anarchy

John McCrae

(1872 – 1918)



I saw a city filled with lust and shame,

Where men, like wolves, slunk through the grim half-light;

And sudden, in the midst of it, there came

One who spoke boldly for the cause of Right.


And speaking, fell before that brutish race

Like some poor wren that shrieking eagles tear,

While brute Dishonour, with her bloodless face

Stood by and smote his lips that moved in prayer.


“Speak not of God! In centuries that word

Hath not been uttered! Our own king are we.”

And God stretched forth his finger as He heard

And o’er it cast a thousand leagues of sea.


John McCrae poetry poetry magazine

More in: Archive C-D, McCrae, John

John McCrae: In Flanders fields

John McCrae


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.


John McCrae poetry poetry magazine

More in: Archive M-N, McCrae, John

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