Field of Poppies

Poppy Number 2 by Thomas Bertin

 Excerpt from The Wizard of Oz.

They walked along listening to the singing of the brightly colored birds and looking at the lovely flowers which now became so thick that the ground was carpeted with them. There were big yellow and white and blue and purple blossoms, besides great clusters of scarlet poppies, which were so brilliant in color they almost dazzled Dorothy’s eyes.

“Aren’t they beautiful?” the girl asked, as she breathed in the spicy scent of the bright flowers.

“I suppose so,” answered the Scarecrow. “When I have brains, I shall probably like them better.”

“If I only had a heart, I should love them,” added the Tin Woodman.

“I always did like flowers,” said the Lion. “They seem so helpless and frail. But there are none in the forest so bright as these.”

They now came upon more and more of the big scarlet poppies, and fewer and fewer of the other flowers; and soon they found themselves in the midst of a great meadow of poppies. Now it is well known that when there are many of these flowers together their odor is so powerful that anyone who breathes it falls asleep, and if the sleeper is not carried away from the scent of the flowers, he sleeps on and on forever. But Dorothy did not know this, nor could she get away from the bright red flowers that were everywhere about; so presently her eyes grew heavy and she felt she must sit down to rest and to sleep.

 

 

There is a lot of significance and symbolism that surrounds the poppy.  Sleep, as seen from the excerpt above from The Wizard of Oz,  shows that even Dorothy could not withstand the soporific effect it had on her.  The Papaver Somniferum is the type of poppy that amassed the field where Dorothy almost met her fate.  This type of poppy is grown on a large scale and is known as the Opium Poppy.  This flower is responsible for some political power moves and violence.  However, not all of it is produced for opium and narcotics.  The seeds are fantastic in muffins, bagels and other foods.  There are many colors of poppies, but the red colored poppies have a lot of significance surrounding death and remembrance.  In ancient Greece, they used blood red poppies as offerings to their dead.  These fleeting delicate flowers are a symbol of the sacrifice of American and European soldiers who fought during the first and second World Wars.  If you have the chance to visit the UK, check out the very powerful installation by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper called “Poppies: Wave And Weeping Window.”   This installation was originally a part of the “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” at the Tower of London, where 888,246 poppies were placed each representing a life lost during WWI.

There are many other colors of poppies and they too have symbolism.  In short, red poppies signify death, remembrance and consolation in the West and success in the East.  White poppies in the East are often used for funerals and memorials; whereas in the West they signify sleep and peaceful rest.  If you find yourself among purple, pink or blue poppies then you have surrounded yourself with luxury, imagination and success.

 

Through the dancing poppies stole a breeze most softly lulling to my soul.

-John Keats