By Charlton “Chuck” Stanley
I first became interested in war poems when I discovered the work of Wilfred Owen. He was killed exactly one week before the Armistice was signed in November 1918. That first poem of his I read was Anthem for a Doomed Youth.
Some of the best poetry to come out of war was from World War I, although great poetry has come from almost all wars. Poets who were there do not romanticize it. Like all poets, Wilfred Owen, Seigfried Sassoon, and Rupert Brooke spoke the truth. The unvarnished hard truth, because they had been there and seen war. It is no accident that almost all “war poems” are anti-war.
Many literature and military experts alike regard Wilfred Owen as the best of the WW-I poets, although this is an arguable distinction.
More over the flip.
Anthem for a Doomed Youth
by Wilfred Owen
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
One of the greatest single poems to come out of WW-I was penned by Lt. Col. John McRae, MD. He wrote In Flanders Fields. The video presentation below conveys far more than anything I can write.
What war poem or song speaks to you?