White poppies peace movement

In the run up to Remembrance Sunday in Britain each November the socially symbolic power of the flower is widely evident. It’s an issue I write about historically in my 2011 book which has a chapter on flowers, gardens and the peace movement (specifically, the white poppy, the Peace rose, and the peace garden movement). I saw a friend the other day wearing both the red poppy of the Royal British Legion and the white poppy of the Peace Pledge Union in a lapel—the dialogue or opposition of symbolism between red and white flower, the implicit and explict political positions inscribed in each and the complicated negotiation and qualification of those positions by those wearing them.

Extract from Radical Gardening: ‘The … red poppy was adopted as a symbol of memorialising the military dead in the wake of World War One, inspired by the cornfield poppies growing across European battlefields—… the poppy [became] a symbol of remembrance and quickly fund-raising first in the United States, for US veterans—the early petals made of red silk—and then on a larger scale for the reconstruction of France, and then in Britain…. The Royal British Legion first adopted the red poppy for the Armistice Day ceremonies of November 11, 1921. 1.5 million were made, which sold out almost immediately, raising over £100, 000 for Legion work supporting British veterans.’

Today the red poppy is a remarkable symbol, and the only visible social/political signifier permitted (or, troublingly perhaps, expected) to be worn by members of the police force, the armed services. Is it, as Prince William argued in 2011, ‘a universal symbol of remembrance’ (emphasis added)? In Britain it does seem almost universal—look only at the way media confirms the poppy’s place: BBC television journalists wear one (see image below), the Daily Telegraph sports one on its title banner in the week leading up to Remembrance Sunday, Google (.co.uk at least) has one on its homepage on 11 November.

Google homepage with red poppy, 11.11.11

The scholar gipsy by matthew arnold

2011-08-11 07:50:19 by catlandboo

Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.
Matthew Arnold. 1822–1888
751. The Scholar-Gipsy
GO, for they call you, Shepherd, from the hill;
Go, Shepherd, and untie the wattled cotes:
No longer leave thy wistful flock unfed,
Nor let thy bawling fellows rack their throats,
Nor the cropp'd grasses shoot another head. 5
But when the fields are still,
And the tired men and dogs all gone to rest,
And only the white sheep are sometimes seen
Cross and recross the strips of moon-blanch'd green;
Come Shepherd, and again begin the quest


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