Poppy

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Field of poppies

The poppy is a flower (properly, a herb) of the genus Papaver, having large flowers, often a vivid red, and a milky sap.

The opium poppy has white flowers and is cultivated in some parts of the world (especially Afghanistan) for the production of opium and heroin.

In the United Kingdom the poppy is the symbol of mourning for war dead. Money is raised for the support of wounded soldiers by the sale of small paper poppies. This tradition derives from the First World War when the growth of poppies on the battlefields of the Western Front was immortalised in the 1915 poem 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.

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