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I'm vibrant life where there is death,
Even though I have no breath,
Double elev'ns I'm held to breast,
And then in winter, I have my rest,
Though I remember heroes,
It is criminals that remember me,
I give solace where there is pain,
I help reach for heaven, but in vain.

What am I?

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "I'm vibrant life among the death, / Even though I have no breath. / On double 'levens held to breast, / Until winter when I rest. / Though criminals remember me, / Heroes are my memory. / Deliver solace where there's pain, / Reaching up to heav'n in vain." $\endgroup$ – Trevor Powell Dec 5 '16 at 11:45
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    $\begingroup$ (That's just cleaning up the meter a bit. In each couplet, the first line has 8 syllables, and the second has 7, matching the structure of the original first two lines. These couplets maintain vocal stress patterns of "low-high-high-low-low-high-high-low" for the first line, and "high-high-low-low-high-high-low" for the second. When speaking this aloud, remember to give "criminal" all three syllables, and "heav'n" should be just one. Poetry is an interesting puzzle, all by itself! :) ) $\endgroup$ – Trevor Powell Dec 5 '16 at 11:48
  • $\begingroup$ (In retrospect, "heav'n in vain" is probably pushing it; you really have to pronounce it as "hev nin vain" in order to make the metre work. I was having trouble fitting "heaven" into the metre without breaking the rhyme. Maybe /Heaven-reaching but in vain./, with a two-syllable 'Heaven'. That probably reads more naturally.) $\endgroup$ – Trevor Powell Dec 5 '16 at 12:01
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Perhaps you are

a poppy.

I'm vibrant life where there is death,

Poppies are brightly coloured living things, even though they (1) are used for remembering people who died in war and (2) this is (I think) because they grew abundantly in some places where there were awful battles in the First World War.

Even though I have no breath,

They're plants :-).

Double elev'ns I'm held to breast,

Particularly used to commemorate the end of the First World War, on the 11th of November (the 11th month).

And then in winter, I have my rest,

Like many plants they grow actively in the warmer parts of the year and only their seeds remain in the winter.

Though I remember heroes,

Commemorating the dead of WW1 and other wars.

It is criminals that remember me,

Not sure what this is about, but see below.

I give solace where there is pain,
I help reach for heaven, but in vain.

Poppies are a source of opiate drugs. Some are very effective painkillers. Some are powerfully euphoric but tend to lead to addiction and messed-up lives. (So perhaps the criminals a few lines above are drug dealers.)

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  • $\begingroup$ That has to be the right answer. Was just pondering this excellent riddle when your answer popped up and I could not resist taking a look. Thank you, that made my night. $\endgroup$ – PaulD Dec 1 '16 at 20:48
  • $\begingroup$ It produces morphine which can be used as a drug may be. $\endgroup$ – Techidiot Dec 1 '16 at 20:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Techidiot That would be one of those opiate drugs I mentioned. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Dec 1 '16 at 20:53
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    $\begingroup$ @PaulD You mean when this excellent riddle poppied up ... sorry. turns and leaves $\endgroup$ – aznbanana9 Dec 2 '16 at 1:28
  • $\begingroup$ Constituent ingredient in opium and heroin, hence why the coalition in Afghanistan would burn poppy fields, as it was a major source of funding for the local warlords $\endgroup$ – nakchak Dec 2 '16 at 10:07

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