NauenThen

World War I poetry

August 5, 2014

Tags: World War I, Ford Madox Ford, Apollinaire

So much remarkable poetry came out of World War I, much of it still as modern as Schoenberg. Modern in language, modern in attitude.

When you see millions of the mouthless dead
Across your dreams in pale battalions go,
Say not soft things as other men have said,
That you'll remember. For you need not so.
Give them not praise. For, deaf, how should they know
It is not curses heaped on each gashed head?
Nor tears. Their blind eyes see not your tears flow.
Nor honour. It is easy to be dead.
Say only this, "They are dead." Then add thereto,
"Yet many a better one has died before."
Then, scanning all the o'ercrowded mass, should you
Perceive one face that you loved heretofore,
It is a spook. None wears the face you knew.
Great death has made all his for evermore.

—Charles Hamilton Sorley, 1895-1915, killed at Loos

World War I centenary

July 2, 2014

Tags: World War I, Ford Madox Ford, Apollinaire

No discussion of WWI is complete without noting that it was a war fought by all strata of society, including the educated and rich. One reason many of us still feel so connected to this war is that we have so much eloquent writing by participants, including one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, Ford Madox Ford's tetralogy Parade's End.

So many artists died or served: French sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, English poet Wilfred Owen ("Dulce et Decorum Est"), Hemingway, Vera Brittain (Testament of Youth), Robert Graves (Goodbye to All That), JRR Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, A. A. Milne, Somerset Maugham, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst, Henry Moore, Wyndham Lewis, E. M. Forster, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Edmund Wilson, John Dos Passos, e. e. cummings, South Dakota painter Harvey Dunn, Georges Braque, Fernand Leger, Jean Cocteau, Otto Dix, Max Ernst, Paul Klee, Walter Gropius. The list is impossibly long.

Apollinaire (who was trepanned; (more…)