In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae

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In "In Flanders Fields," who does "our" refer to in the phrase "that mark our place"?

Quick answer:

In the phrase "that mark our place" from "In Flanders Fields," "our" refers to those who have perished, likely on Flanders fields, and are now buried underneath the crosses and poppies.

Expert Answers

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The poem opens in a setting of contrasts: rows of crosses mark graves as poppies blow between the markers. This juxtaposition of life and death is central to the request of the speaker in the final stanza.

The first person pronoun "our" appears in the first stanza. The poppies blow "between the crosses ... / that mark [our] place." The speaker thus represents a collective group of people who rest underneath those crosses. This idea is continued in the second stanza as the first person reference becomes more clear:

We are the Dead.

Just a few "short days ago," this group of people lived and loved. The experiences available to those who are living have ended for the speaker; seeing and feeling sunrises and sunsets are no longer possible. Now the speaker, and all those who died with him, lies in the fields beneath the poppies.

The pronoun "our" appears again in the final stanza as the speaker asks those who are living to "take up our quarrel." The dead can no longer fight this battle, and they pass the proverbial torch to those who are living. The dead ask the living to "hold it high" as as a means of honoring those who have perished. In fact, the speaker insists that if the living fail to continue this battle, those who have died will never find peaceful rest.

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