Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Poetry of World War I

The 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War 1 is officially July 28, the day Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia and attacked, in retribution for the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand and Archduchess Sophie in Sarajevo by a Serbian teenager. By the time the war ended, more than 70 million military personnel had been involved; more than nine million combatants were dead; and the German, Austrian, Ottoman, and Russian ruling families were swept from power.

It seems odd to associate poetry with war, but it is a fact that no war is more connected to poetry that World War I. And for that we mostly have the English to thank.

From 1914 to 1918, poetry went to war. But it went to war in all its possible permutations – jingoistic nationalism; nostalgia for a world being fought for even as it passed away; the cynical response of the men in the trenches to their incompetent generals; the mourning of civilians; pacifism and opposition to the war; and the reflection of what it all meant, or didn’t mean, years after the war was over.

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

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