Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: TOURIST ATTRACTION(S) (natural or man-made) (08/06/15)
TITLE: 888,246 poppies
By Margaret Kearley
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Piercing the clouded sky
And gaze down, as they have for years,
On Father Thames nearby.
Her Majesty’s Royal Fortress,
(Fond euphemism, ‘The Tower’),
Holds annals from a millennium
Of devious plots and power.
O ancient Tower of London
What tales your walls could tell
Of intrigue and of mystery;
Your passing clientele
Resided in this Palace
Beneath the monarch’s favour,
Whilst others met a quick despatch
For some wrongful behaviour.
But years have rolled on rapidly,
As quickly as The Thames,
And now its tourists who arrive
In droves, to see the gems.
In holidaying spirit
They joyfully relax
And purchase souvenir gifts:
Beefeaters, Union Jacks.
O ancient Tower of London
The ‘must-see sight’ of all
For thousand-thousand visitors
To England’s Capital.
But let me tell you of a sight
That took our breath away
When visiting the Tower
One last November day …..
Words failed, the pressing multitudes
In subdued silence stand
With moistened eyes, hearts strangely torn
By numerous poppies; fanned
Around the Tower, upon the lawn,
Each poppy singly made,
A symbol of one life laid down,
There graphically displayed.
The metal stalks, ceramic blooms,
Red petals, stamen black,
Were individually planted
And called the memory back.
The boom of gunfire’s long been stilled
But here, a poppy sea
Flung memories back one hundred years
To war’s reality.
The Tower tourists, quiet that day
In memory stood with low bowed head
Before the poppies ‘Blood Swept Lands,
The ‘Flowing Seas of Red’.
O ancient Tower of London,
Throughout long centuries
You’ve surely never witnessed such
A telling sight as this.
You’ve seen many comings, goings,
New sights eclipse ‘before’
So it surely won’t surprise you that
The poppy-sea’s no more.
Yes, every bright red poppy
Was plucked with utmost care,
Then packaged up and posted on
So many more could share
A small part of ‘the Blood Swept Lands,
The Flowing Seas of Red’,
And thus this mighty monument
Across the world is spread.
Designer Tom Piper and Ceramicist Paul Cummins commemorated the centenary of World War One with their art illustration called 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red.
Around the moat at the Tower of London, 888,246 ceramic red poppies were gradually planted until 11 November 2014. Each represented one British or colonial life lost.
More than 5 million people are estimated to have visited Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red during the four months it appeared in the Tower’s moat.
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