"A war poet is a poet who participates
in a war and writes about his experiences, or a non-combatant who
writes poems about war. While the term is applied especially to
those who served during World War I, the term can be applied to a
poet of any nationality writing about any war ... In World War I,
for the first time, a substantial number of important British poets
were soldiers, writing about their experiences of war. A number of
them died on the battlefield ... [others] survived but were scarred
by their experiences, and this was reflected in their poetry ...
Many poems by British war poets were published in newspapers and
then collected in anthologies. Several of these anthologies were
published during the war and were very popular, though the tone of
the poetry changed as the war progressed..."
The Muse in Arms
"The Muse in Arms is an anthology of British war poetry published in
November 1917 during World War I. It consists of 131 poems by 52
contributors, with the poems divided into fourteen thematic
sections. The poets were all from three branches of the armed
services, land, sea, and air, from a range of ranks (though mostly
officers) and from many parts of the UK. Twenty of the poets who
contributed to this volume died during the war..."
Why the War Poets Matter
"The strength of the war poets
... is not that they are all that representative of the opinions of
the time. It would be foolish to think that poetry ought to be
representative. Their strength really comes from the way that they
reworked the words and thoughts of the time and rose above the
immediacy of war fervour. They were blessed, if that is not too
grotesque a word, with a deeply poetic and literary moment, where
words rose up to lead men on to extraordinary deeds..."
Reflections on Remembrance Sunday, 11th November 2018: A Poem to
"Brave soldiers in their graves
revolve as EU leaders now resolve to render hard won victories to
nought / On foreign soil in two world wars, they kept invaders from
In Flanders Fields by John McCrae, MD
"On May 2, 1915, John McCrae's close
friend and former student Alexis Helmer was killed by a German shell
... The next day ... as John McCrae was writing his In Flanders
Fields poem, Sergeant-Major Cyril Allinson silently watched and
later recalled, 'His face was very tired but clam as he wrote. He
looked around from time to time, his eyes straying to Helmer's grave
... when he was done, without a word, McCrae handed the poem to
Allinson. Allinson was deeply moved..."
For the Fallen by Robert Laurence Binyon
"The poem was written in mid September
1914, a few weeks after the outbreak of the First World War. During
these weeks the British Expeditionary Force had suffered casualties
following its first encounter with the Imperial German Army at the
Battle of Mons on 23 August ... Laurence said in 1939 that the four
lines of the fourth stanza came to him first. These words of the
fourth stanza have become especially familiar and famous..."
The Soldier by Rupert Brooke
"Perhaps his most famous poem, it
reflects British sorrow over and pride in the young men who died in
World War I. Narrated in the first person by an English soldier, the
poem is sentimental, patriotic, and epitaphic. In the closing
sestet, the poem's speaker suggests that his soul is eternally
linked with England. The poem's familiar opening lines acquired even
greater poignancy as a result of Brooke's own wartime death"
Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen
"They would not print Wilfred Owen's
poem until after the war. Wilfred Owen died on the last day of war
For me, he epitomises
Soldier X" [viewer's
Suicide in the Trenches by Siegfried Sassoon
"This is one of the many poems the poet
Siegfried Sassoon composed in response to World War I, reflecting
his own notable service in that especially bloody conflict. Sassoon
was a brave and gallant upper-class officer who eventually opposed
the war, but never lost his admiration for the common soldiers who
had to fight it. Sassoon felt contempt for the political leaders and
civilian war hawks who, safe in their power and comfort, sent young
men off to die in huge battles that seemed futile and pointless ...
[and] brought home to an uninformed public the true reality of the
ghastly nature of the war" [source].
by Siegfried Sassoon
Readers' comments: "Very
emotional and captures the horrific scenes" / "These war
poems make one remember those who served ... and those who need to
be honoured by us" / "This poem is going to haunt me for
a long time. Powerful. Heartbreaking. Wise. And it hurts in that way
that truth has of hurting" / "Raw and emotional, this
poem really hits home, and shows the brutal and vicious cycle that
is war" / "First hand account of the futility of war"
Tommy by Rudyard Kipling
"'Tommy' is such a powerful poem with
its context percolating through decades at a stretch. At one point,
you feel that little knot tighten up in your throat and your mind
knows how true the words are. The people, the government, they
promise a better lifestyle for the soldiers, but in reality, they
didn't even receive extra rations. But Tommy is not a fool..." [source].
Under an English Heaven
(02 January 2018)
England, My England by William Ernest Henley, and The Soldier
by Rupert Brooke.
The Battle (Written and Recorded 1969 / Uploaded 08
"In the early dawn the Bishop's
men / Shivered in the damp / But the shiver came not from the cold /
And spread throughout the camp / The trembling horses sensed the
fear / Of silent thoughtful men / Who prayed that wives and families
/ Might see them once again..."
No Man's Land / Green Fields of France / Willie McBride
(Written 1976 / This Version Uploaded 20 September 2014)
"Well how do you do, Private William McBride / Do you mind if
I sit here down by your grave side? / A rest for awhile in the warm
summer sun / I've been walking all day and I'm nearly done / And I
see by your gravestone that you were only nineteen / When you joined
the glorious fallen in nineteen-sixteen..."
May We Never Forget
Just 19 years old when
some were told
We need you all or our country will fall.
Never knowing for sure if they'd return to shore,
The horror endured as they lost friends adored;
Unbearably worse than they could possibly converse.
Is it too much to ask that their dreadful task
be remembered whatever with thanks forever?...
Men in trenches, bit by
rats, foul putrid gas tears through the air,
Ice cold mud seeps through their bones, while death beckons
Bodies strewn across the land, and hung on fences high,
Blazing guns still fire in frenzy, blocking out a young man's cry;
He was one of many millions, who died in no man's land
Who would never again kiss their children
or hold their sweetheart's hand.
Who would never again hug their mother, as she bade him a fond
Who would never again shake their father's hand, or tell jokes by
For four long years the battle raged, till it finally fell to its
And in the fields of France where the brave now rest,
Red poppies dance in the breeze.
[From a reader at
To the Female Suffering From A Severe Case
of 'White Privilege' and
You seem to think it fun
that your ancestors did die, that you have some legitimacy to your
treacherous, hateful cry,
You want us to dance on the graves of our men, you scorn them with
insults, with your electronic pen,
You giggle and snarl like a degenerate child, thrilled with the
commotion of which you have riled.
But know this and listen, the roads where you stand were built and
created with those great male hands.
The device which you use to spread all your lies would not even be
possible without their death cries.
You cuddle up tight in
your soft warm bed; those men slept in trenches where they suffered
You dwell in an ivory tower shielded by comfortable things, yet you
have no knowledge of suffering or the real pain it brings.
Those seats you sit upon up mighty and high are built on the
cemeteries of the dead - since for you they did die.
Those graves you dance upon in your frenzy of hate are the graves of
those who gave you all you had - and your reply?
Is to berate.
Every comfort you have,
every freedom you breathe, it was given as an inheritance, from the
men who did bleed,
Everything you know, every simple pleasure, every right, passion, or
Was given to you by your fathers; by men who loved you dear,
Who were slaughtered like cattle in the millions, just so would know
Men who gasped for breath as their bodies tormented with pain, died
like this for you so you would never feel the same.
Not only did they build
everything you see, they sacrificed their lives, for you, and for
What sacrifice do you make? What thanks do you give?
To acknowledge these men who died just so that you and I could live?
You suffer with an ailment, a poison of mind, that even a mere'
thank you' you just cannot find.
From a woman.
[Written by a reader
Lost Causes by R.H.
"He paused to puff life
into the pipe, a glossy sheen settling over his eyes. 'I have
served my country now for more than fifty years,' he went on. 'And
in that time, I've fought alongside thousands of men; men from all
walks of life; men who were hungry, exhausted, and hopelessly
outnumbered; men who were shelled and shot at until they were
senseless; men who should have surrendered or run, but, who, through
it all, laughed and sang and cried and kept on fighting. In
exchange, they never asked for very much. Only the promise
that what they were dying for wouldn't die with them; that future
generations would never forget what they had done; that somehow
they, and the values they fought for, would become enshrined ion the
"His speech slowed now,
the tone deepening. 'Of course, I can't claim to know what
those values were,' he said. 'Every man had his own. But I do
know what they didn't include. It didn't include a country
that would voluntarily surrender its sovereignty to its
long-standing enemies. Nor did they fight for a system which
would tax, harass and spy on them every minute of every day; in
which they couldn't even say a joke - let alone a much needed home
truth - without fear of official reprisal. And they sure as
hell didn't fight and die for a Britain in which their grandchildren
would grow up to call them fascists...'
"He paused again,
collecting his thoughts. 'I never thought I'd say it, but
looking back, the ones that died were the lucky ones. They
didn't live to see the great betrayal that was to follow, to see the
wasting of all their efforts. We couldn't have made it a land
less fit for heroes to live in if we'd tried, and to be honest I
can't say I care what happens anymore...'"
[Quoted from the
novel Lost Causes by a reader at
"Men fight for liberty
and win it with hard knocks.
Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools.
And their grandchildren are once more slaves."
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Canadian Army (1872-1918)
"[T]he foe of which John McCrae
wrote were not the people in the opposite trenches.
The foe were tyranny and dictatorship ... our soldiers knew this ...
Yes, we have indeed dropped the torch! Yes, we have indeed broken
faith with those who died and lie in Flanders Fields! ...
and yes, we will have to bear the
consequences in the years to come..."
thing there is a
season, and a time to
every purpose under the
A time to be born, and a
time to die; a time to
plant, and a time to
that which is
A time to kill, and a
time to heal; a time to
break down, and a time
to build up;
A time to weep, and a
time to laugh; a time to
mourn, and a time to
A time to cast away
stones, and a time to
gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a
time to refrain from
A time to get, and a
time to lose; a time to
keep, and a time to cast
A time to rend, and a
time to sew; a time to
keep silence, and a time
A time to love, and a
time to hate; a time of
war, and a time of