Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of World War I, the “war to end all wars,” except it didn’t. The “Great War” has held a great fascination for writers and poets, not to mention historians, not the least for which is because it so neatly, and jaggedly, divided the old word order from the new. The war also produced several poets who became famous in death, such as Rupert Brooke and Wilfred Owen, and several who survived the war but became part of the Lost Generation, such as Seigfried Sassoon and Robert Graves.
Their poetic styles varied widely, but they shared a view of war that was both realistic and resistant. Poetry served as the means to illustrate both.
The first half of Andrew Motion’s The Customs House: Poems shares that same realistic and resistant view of war. A series of poems about war stretches from World War I through the wars of today, including Iraq and Afghanistan. But the poems not include the battlefield and theaters of war, but also the home front, and the aftermath of war. These poems often tell stories, but they all examine war with a cold penetrating eye.
To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.
Photograph by Tim Emerich via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.