Because there are many different colors of poppies, there are many different meanings. In general, a poppy means imagination and eternal sleep. This is because of the opium extracted from them and the blood-red color.
In Greek mythology, Demeter created the poppy so she could sleep. This was after the loss of her daughter, Persephone. The twin brothers Hypnos and Thanatos were depicted with a crown of poppies. Because Hypnos was the god of sleep and Thanatos was god of death, the Greeks were obviously aware that endless sleep meant death.
In Greco-Roman myths, poppies were used as offerings to the dead.
Throughout history, these flowers have been used as emblems on tombstones to represent eternal sleep.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the aspect of eternal sleep was used in creating magical poppy fields. These were dangerous because they caused those who passed through them to sleep forever.
The red poppy symbolizes pleasure, but since the introduction of the Remembrance Day commemoration its meaning has changed to one of solemnity, honor and, well, remembrance.
In Flanders Fields:
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.
- MD Lt. Col. John McCrae, 1915
White poppies are symbolic of sleep.
The yellow poppy is a symbol of wealth and success.