OF WAR POETRY
Selected and introduced by Chris Price
This collection of poems, originally put together for my pupils at Merchant Taylors’ School, Crosby, where I was Head of the English Department, is designed to present a balanced view of conflicting attitudes to war. The poems I have chosen range from the voicing of bitter condemnation, through uncertainty, to a willing acceptance of war. One thing they have in common is the quality of their writing: it is a strange irony that the worst of human experience has brought out some of the best poetry, especially in the case of the poetry of the First World War, which was responsible for inspiring most of this selection.
The relationship between war, as seen through the eys of these poets, and Christianity, is as varied as the poems themselves. There are religious references of one sort or another in more than half of these poems; in them the church is sometimes seen as giving its blessing to a just war, and soldiers are seen as dying for a righteous cause in the name of God. Elsewhere there is criticism, real or implied, either of the church or of a God who allows such suffering to happen. Brooke can thank 'God who has matched us with this hour', but Owen can say sadly that 'love of God seems dying'. The wars these poets picture were fought between Christian nations, and the dilemma that caused exists to this day.
The anthology is presented in a sequence of five sections, from
anticipation of war, through conflict to the aftermath; each
a brief note which may help put the poems in perspective. Follow
at the end of each section to go to the other sections.
Peace Rupert Brooke
The Send-Off Wilfred Owen
All the Hills and Vales Along Charles Sorley
'When Can Their Glory Fade?'
Vitai Lampada Henry Newbolt
The Volunteer Herbert Asquith
The Charge of the Light Brigade Alfred, Lord Tennyson
The Soldier Rupert Brooke
For the Fallen Laurence Binyon
Six Young Men Ted Hughes
After Blenheim Robert Southey
'The Old Lie'
Exposure Wilfred Owen
Dulce et Decorum Est Wilfred Owen
Does it Matter? Siegfried Sassoon
Anthem for Doomed Youth Wilfred Owen
The General Siegfried Sassoon
A Working Party Siegfried Sassoon
Futility Wilfred Owen
Aftermath and Remembrance
Mental Cases Wilfred Owen
Disabled Wilfred Owen
Aftermath Siegfried Sassoon
Why Patriots are a bit Nuts in the Head Roger McGough
Remembrance Chris Price
Go to the first section (‘The
The second section ('When Can
Their Glory Fade?')
The third section ('Interlude')
The fourth section ('The Old
The final section ('Aftermath
Chris Price's poem
The Poetry Index page