A poem by lyricist R.W. Lillard to Artist Douglas Volk.
History is a fabulous thing. Hoarding historical treasures can be fabulous too, if they don’t take you over. My point?
Several years ago I purchased at auction a sizable amount of material belonging to American painter Douglas Volk and his being commissioned to paint three portraits of world leaders during the First World War; they were, Lloyd George, Albert, King of the Belgian, and General John J. Pershing. While in Europe painting, researching, etc., Volk picked up several poppy petals from Flanders Fields, and pasted one each onto post card material for sending messages to family and friends. There were half a dozen or so that I kept, because that’s what I do.
Moving onward to a few months ago, I bought this poem by R.W. Lillard, “America’s Answer,” written personally to Douglas Volk. And now, these two small historical items are rejoined in a sense for your benefit.
When researching Flanders Fields, I noticed that several sites mention Lillard’s poem, as well as others. How widely known he is in that circle I know not, but he knowing Douglas Volk suggests that Lillard traveled in good company with perhaps many in the world of the arts.
Douglas Volk, was mainly a portrait painter. He was the son of Leonard Volk, who is probably best known for doing the Life and Death Masks of known personage; names like Abraham Lincoln and Volk’s ancestor, Stephen Douglas, who ran against Lincoln in the 1860 Presidential Campaign.
To save time I have copied the poem:
Rest ye in peace, ye Flanders dead
The fight that you so bravely led
We’ve taken up. And we will keep
True faith with you who lie asleep,
With each a cross to mark his bed,
And poppies blowing overhead,
When once his own life-blood ran red
So let your rest be sweet and deep
In Flanders Fields.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
The torch ye threw to us we caught,
Ten million hands will hold it high,
And freedom’s light shall never die!
We’ve learned the lesson that ye taught
In Flanders’ fields.
To My Friend Douglas Volk,
With Sincere Regards, R.W. Lillard
April 5th, 1920″
The poem is written on plain cardboard stock and then was framed (this is the original framing, needing glass). It measures 8 1/2 x 11. The glass having broken some time ago has caused water staining and smudging of ink.
The card with the poppy petal is 3 1/2 x 5 1/4 and the color of the poppy has taken a shade that resembles dried blood as if spilt there. It should not be overlooked that Flanders Field (s) is actually a series of several battlefields in Belgium where the loss of life was tremendous during World War One.
It’s sad that this poem has suffered condition wise, as I suspect that little was thought of it, perhaps being relegated to the attic or a box in a barn loft, either way, it has resurfaced with a visitor having come from a similar journey. This is why we collect folks; its like pairing up these two old friends again.
USPS Priority Mail $14.