MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

World War One Installation at The Tower


Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, Paul Cummins

The ongoing installation/memorial in honor of the 888,246 soldiers (from the UK and its colonies) who were slaughtered in the Great War is spreading across the Tower of London’s long-dry moat. The installation is the work of ceramic artist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper (associate designer with the Royal Shakespeare Company).

Why The Tower of London? According to the installation’s website:

During the First World War, the Tower’s moat was used to swear in over 1,600 men who had enlisted by the end of August 1914 at the recruitment station in the City to form the 10th Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers — the so called “stock brokers battalion” who fought for the duration of the war.

The source of the installation’s title:

“The Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red”
by Anonymous (Unknown Soldier)

The blood swept lands and seas of red,
Where angels dare to tread.
As I put my hand to reach,
As God cried a tear of pain as the angels fell,
Again and again.

As the tears of mine fell to the ground
To sleep with the flowers of red
As any be dead

My children see and work through fields of my
Own with corn and wheat,
Blessed by love so far from pain of my resting
Fields so far from my love.

It be time to put my hand up and end this pain
Of living hell, to see the people around me
Fall someone angel as the mist falls around
And the rain so thick with black thunder I hear
Over the clouds, to sleep forever and kiss
The flower of my people gone before time
To sleep and cry no more

I put my hand up and see the land of red,
This is my time to go over,
I may not come back
So sleep, kiss the boys for me.

The famous poppy poem from WWI:

“In Flanders Fields”
by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Filed under: art exhibition, poetry

3 Responses - Comments are closed.

  1. This is such a stunning memorial. I wish I was going to be in London this autumn to see it. I hope to buy a poppy before they’re sold out.

  2. Thomas May says:

    The effect of seeing it close up really is incredible.

  3. I’m totally depressed that they want to charge me 19 pounds shipping per 25 pound poppy. Ouch! I guess I’m not ordering today!


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