Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Most Famous Poem of World War I

Perhaps more than any other conflict, World War I is the most closely associated with poetry. Poets enlisted and wrote from the fields and trenches; poets helped bury their comrades and wrote about it; poets died; and poets survived to write the poetry of the war. And poets and their poetry helped shape especially the British perspective on the war and war in general for a generation.

It was also, perhaps, how war was changing. The American Civil War had signaled the end of the old style of war; World War I turned war into an industrial enterprise, with its advanced weaponry, airplanes, and even chemical gases. World War I also changed what people understood war to be – no longer battles between armies and navies but total war, pitting nation against nation, including the civilian population.

This was a time, too, when newspapers and general interest magazines routinely published poetry, and the public engaged in reading and reciting poetry far more than what we know today. Poetry spoke of the war and to the war in ways that even the best written and most devastating news accounts could not.

To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry

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