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“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 falling hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high If Harrowing and heartbreaking poems from WW1, mostly written by soldiers in the trenches 100 years ago.Arranged thematically, the selections take the reader through the war’s stages, from conscription to its aftermath, and offer a blend of voices that is both unique and profoundly moving.
One interesting detail I learned from this book is that the famous lines from Rupert Brooke’s ‘The Soldier’‘If I should die, think only this of me: That there’s some corner of a foreign field That is forever England.’Is actually a copy of the decided less patriotic ‘Drummer Hodge’ by Thomas Hardy (set during the Boer War)‘Yet portion of that unknown plain Will Hodge forever be; His homely Northern breast and brain Grow to some Southern tree’This is mainly a collection of English poets, but includes Germans, French, Italians, and Russians.
This one was, I think, from the English class, though it may have also been assigned reading for the history class as well.
The poetry itself runs the gamut, from the conventional and sentimental "pep" works from early in the war (some from poets, like Rupert Brooke, who died before ever seeing combat at all, and others from poets too old for combat, like Kipling), to full fledged "trench poetry" by the likes of Wilfrid OOne of the books from my semester-o'-world-war-one, in the spring of 1990.
’The First World War had many prophets: geopolitical thinkers who believed a reckoning between Empires was inevitable; ‘race theorists’ who thought that soft Europeans could only reinvigorate themselves through war; war novelists with fantasies about their countries being invaded.
This collection of First World War Poetry also shows that poets were aware of the horrific possibilities of future war prior to 1914.