“In Flanders fields the poppies blow, Between the crosses, row on row.”
So begins the 1919 poem by Canadian poet-physician-soldier, John McCrae, memorializing the poppy fields of France and Belgium where so many hundreds of thousands died during World War I. Nearly 100 years later, the poppy remains a potent symbol of soldiers killed at war. In Commonwealth countries (including The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) poppies are worn on lapels in the days leading to 11 November, Remembrance (Armistice) Day.
Long before this custom, however, the poppy has long been associated with sleep, peace and death—perhaps due to the narcotic effects of the plant. Opium, morphine, heroin and codeine are all derived from the plant and it is believed that the ancient Egyptians chewed on the seeds to relieve pain. The Greeks and the Romans offered poppies to the dead and tombstones were often decorated with stylized versions of the plant.
Today, poppy oil and poppy seeds are used for food.
The card above, printed in England, illustrates the papery petals of the poppy blossom. It is part of our recently-received shipment of new, floral Spring greeting cards, now in-store.