Another one of my favorite paintings in the gallery is titled, “After the Rain” by Vladimir Piven. It is a painting of sunlight, shining down on Red Field Poppies, after a soft rain. I love all flowers and arrange them for weddings and parties all over Virginia and North Carolina, but this painting is a standout, in its beauty and its symbolism.
The Red Field Poppy is the internationally recognized symbol of remembrance for those who have died on the battlefield in wars around our world. The seeds of the poppy can lie dormant on the ground for a long time, but when they are disturbed in early spring and given warmth from the sun, the seeds germinate and bloom from May until August. This is what happened on the front lines in Belgium and Germany during WWI. A young Canadian soldier, named John McCrae, noticed the poppies growing around the burial fields and after the death of a dear friend composed a famous poem titled, In Flounders Field.
In Flounders 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, fell dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
in Flounders Fields.
Take up the 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 Flounders Field.