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 the anticipation of war, through conflict to the aftermath; each section contains a brief note which may help put the poems in perspective. Follow the link at the end of each section to go to the other sections.


'The Send-Off'

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 Send Off’)

The second section ('When Can Their Glory Fade?')

The third section ('Interlude')

The fourth section ('The Old Lie')

The final section ('Aftermath and Remembrance')

Chris Price's poem 'Remembrance'

The Poetry Index page

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