Great Poets of World War I: Poetry from the Great War

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9780786710980: Great Poets of World War I: Poetry from the Great War
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In times of war and national calamity—writes Jon Stallworthy in his illuminating survey of the lives and work of twelve celebrated war poets—large numbers of people seldom seen in church or bookshop will turn for consolation and inspiration to religion and poetry. Never more so than in World War I did the poignant poetry of hundreds of young men scarred by battle reach so large and eager an audience. Among the most famous and memorable of these youthful voices were those of the strikingly handsome, golden-haired, nobly patriotic Rupert Brooke, dead at twenty-eight; the serious-minded, poignantly truthful Wilfred Owen, who was shot down, at twenty-five; and the defiant Siegfried Sassoon whose gallantry in the Somme Offensive earned him the Military Cross and nickname Mad Jack. Profiled in this volume, too, and illustrated throughout with photographs of the action they saw and manuscripts of the poems they wrote are Edmund Blunden, whose work is haunted by the war until his death in 1974; Isaac Rosenberg, the painter who captured the absurdity and horror of war in words; along with Julian Grenfell, Edward Thomas, Charles Hamilton Sorley, Frances Ledwidge, Ivor Gurney, David Jones, and Robert Graves. With access to the archives of the Imperial War Museum and its wide collection of rare color and black-and-white photographs, this volume beautifully combines art, poetry, biography, and the tragic, noble, bleak, and confounding experience that was the Great War.

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This heavily illustrated work discusses 12 poets (e.g., Rupert Brooke, Robert Graves) who wrote during World War I, seven of whom did not survive. Each poet is covered in a separate chapter, which includes a brief synopsis of his family background and education but focuses on the individual as a developing poet before he enlisted in the service and then on the influence that the war and other war poets had on his work. Stallworthy (Oxford Univ.) here incorporates excerpts from letters and facsimiles of autograph manuscripts of poems. He provides good, close readings of one or two of each poet's work and ends each chapter with a handful of reprinted poems. The volume appears to be organized by grouping together poets with similar views of the war; thus, the poets with a romanticized view, whose early deaths stopped them from experiencing the war, begin the work. Although the coverage is brief, this is a very moving book. Recommended for all libraries.
Paolina Taglienti, New York
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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