The Poppy is recognised as a pioneer species. This means that it is one of the first species to emerge from disturbed ground. It flowered on First World World battlefields. It sprang up from dormant seedbanks in the devastated landscape in Northern France and Belgium. Its bright red colour conjures up thoughts of the terrible wartime cost in human blood. Its emergence from the scarred terrain conveys Man’s ability to rise again in hope. The Poppy endures today as our symbol of Remembrance.
This year, the ceramic poppies returned to the moat of the Bishop’s Palace in Wells. The Requiem of the living British choral composer, Bill Chilcott, was sung in Wells Cathedral on Remembrance Sunday, 10th November 2019. The ceremony was led by the Archdeacon of Wells, the Venerable Anne Gell. At a time when it seems that the commemorations get ever more dramatically creative, this was a simple and poignant event.
Singing by the Wells Cathedral Choir and music by the Wells Cathedral School Chamber Ensemble was interpersed with poems and readings evoking the horror of war. The Cathedral’s acoustics were moving and uplifting for Chilcott’s Requiem. The Archdeacon’s clear, measured voice rang out into the assembly before her.
World War II
This September marked the eightieth anniversary of the start of the Second World War. The readings reminded me of my father’s words on a bombing across the lake from his childhood home, as well as my grandmother’s remarks on Anderson shelters. World wars are increasingly outside the experience of the living and it is feared that the lessons of the past are being forgotten.
Do the commemorations have to become ever more dramatic? How should we hang on the true meaning of the event?
At the end of the service, poppy petals fluttered to the floor from a single rose in the nave ceiling.
It was not as dramatic as a WW2 plane flanked by Spitfires dropping 750,000 poppies over the Kent Coast.
It was subtle.
The poignancy seemed much more in keeping with quiet reflection and sombre remembrance.
Maybe it is time to regain the meaning from the drama and creative artistry?
It is time to pioneer a contrasting subtler tone.
© Karen Netto (Andrews) 2018-19
These pages illustrate my love of plants, botany, nature, biodiversity, gardens and creative expression. There is always so much to learn about plant diversity. I love sharing. This blog is a showcase for my own photography, commentary on plants and wildlife, gardens and other places visited, horticulture and related topics.
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