Blood Swept Lands And Seas of Red

Pictures of the poppies at the Tower of London have been sweeping the internet. Having been to the war graves and World War 1 battlefields in Belgium during the summer and then helping plant memorial snowdrops in Manchester, we couldn’t not see the poppies and this visual commemoration of the World War 1 centenary. A rainy day with howling winds greeted us as we arrived in London, we headed straight to the Tower.

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Everywhere was busy – people had come from all over to see this – it is easy to see why. The red poppies stretch out before you – thousands and thousands of them, never-ending it seems. They bleed from the bastion window – designed to symbolise the infantrymen at the Somme. This is powerful imagery indeed.

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The moat is almost saturated with crimson – by 11 November (Armistice Day) it will be. Volunteers will by then have planted 888,246 poppies here – one for every British soldier lost during 1914-1918. The numbers are sobering, the poppies and the sheer scale of them really hits home.

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The name “Blood Swept Lands And Seas of Red” comes from a poem, written by a soldier who died in the trenches. It is very fitting.

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We watched the volunteers working steadily, planting the ceramic poppies and marvelled again at the scale. You can buy a poppy – for £25 one will be delivered in January with the proceeds being split between 6 service charities.

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We walked around the perimeter of the Tower – looking, thinking, musing. The weeping window is incredible and so is the wave over the causeway. However I found it very poignant too in the areas where there are far fewer poppies.

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The poppies are different heights, we watched the taller ones sway in the wind. Gradually they will join up and by 11 November all the edges will be filled. I read somewhere at that point, from on high, the round black roof of the White Tower will form the centre of the most dramatic poppy ever.

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This is a beautiful and moving tribute. I am glad we saw it.

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