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WORLD WAR I POETRY At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them. (Binyon15-16) For the Fallen – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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At the going down of the sun and in the
morning We will remember them.
(Binyon15-16) For the Fallen
  • Jon McCraes poem In Flanders Fields became the
    inspiration for the British Legions annual poppy
  • Rupert Brookes The Soldier one of best known
    poems in English- choice of the Prime Minister,
    Tony Blair, for inclusion in The Big Book of
    Little Poems

(No Transcript)
the war that was GreatVernon Scannell
  • First major war for British troops for a hundred
  • On such a huge and mechanized scale that very few
    communities or even families were untouched
  • Conscription- introduced in Britain for the first
    time in 1916, but even before that tens of
    thousands had enlisted
  • Professional soldiers vastly outnumbered by
    volunteers and conscripts

  • Officer class received education founded on the
    classics and informed by the idealism of
    Victorian and Edwardian culture
  • Universal education meant private soldiers were,
    for the first time, literate and acquainted with
    the English literary tradition

  • Came at a great time of great social, political
    and cultural change
  • Birth of movements in the arts (modernism)
  • Industrial and political unrest throughout Europe

World War I was the catalyst for more major
military technological innovations than any other
war in history.
  • Aircraft and air warfare
  • The submarine
  • The tank
  • Poison gas
  • Machine gun
  • Artillery and high explosives
  • Electronic communications (field telephones)

  • During the war the term soldier-poet was
    almost as familiar as a ration card (Edmund
  • In the television series Blackadder Goes Forth
    (1989) Lord Flasheart complains, Im sick of
    this damn war- the blood, the noise, the endless

Popularity of Poetry THEN
  • Popular in ways its hard to appreciate today
  • Newspapers regularly printed new poems and
    volumes of verse also did well
  • In 1914 a Georgian Poetry anthology

Trench Warfare
  • The middle part of the war,
  • 1916 and 1917, was
  • dominated by continued
  • trench warfare in both the east and the west.
    Soldiers fought from dug-in positions, striking
    at each other with machine guns, heavy artillery,
    and chemical weapons. Though soldiers died by the
    millions in brutal conditions, neither side had
    any substantive success or gained any advantage.
  • Threat of illness from decomposing bodies and
    diseases bred in mud

Significance of WW1
  • The First World War runs through the British
    modern-day psyche like no other conflict. On
    Remembrance Day Sunday thoughts (of those who
    have not fought) turn to the fields in Flanders
    and the slaughter of the Somme and Passchendaele
    more readily than Dunkirk, El Alamein, or Arnhem
    (unless, of course, the date is an anniversary of
    a specific battle).
  • It has been described as Britain's 'Vietnam',
    where the true horror of War touched everyone and
    everything in the country, breaking through the
    class barrier and irreversibly altering the
    social structure of the nation. It also closely
    parallels Vietnam as it represents an
    overwhelming feeling of futility, in that so many
    lives were wasted for such little gain. Unlike
    the Second World War, which more easily falls
    into the 'just war' definition of right versus
    wrong, the First World War appears as a conflict
    with aims that were quickly lost, degenerating to
    a war of attrition in unbelievable conditions.

  • Moreover, the War was dehumanizing. It brought
    home how quickly and easily mankind could be
    reduced to a state lower than animals. Pat
    Barker, in her novel Regeneration (1992),
    reflects on the War's terrible reversal of
  • "The Great Adventure. They'd been mobilized into
    holes in the ground so constricted they could
    hardly move. And the Great Adventure (the real
    life equivalent of all the adventure stories
    they'd devoured as boys) consisted of crouching
    in a dugout, waiting to be killed.
  • The war that had promised so much in the
  • way of 'manly' activity had actually delivered
  • 'feminine' passivity, and on a scale that their
  • mothers and sisters had scarcely known."

Themes of WW1 Poetry
  • Patriotism
  • Heroism
  • War and Nature
  • Visions and Dreams

Rupert Brooke
  • Brooke's entire reputation as a war poet rests on
    only 5 "war sonnets.
  • Brooke's war experience consisted of one day of
    limited military action with the Hood Battalion
    during the evacuation of Antwerp.
  • Consequently, his "war sonnets" swell with naive
    sentiments of the most general kind on the themes
    of maturity, purpose and romantic death the
    kind of sentiments held by many (but not all)
    young Englishmen at the outbreak of the war.
  • Died of blood poisoning from a mosquito bite
    while en route to Gallipoli with the Navy

  • Brooke's poetry gives us a glimpse of a golden
    era in England just before the First World War.
    To be more precise, it was a golden time only for
    the upper classes, who enjoyed the fruits of
    Britain's imperial dominance public school
    education, guaranteed employment (if they desired
    it) and access to the rich and powerful members
    of society.
  • The gap between rich and poor was wide during
    this period, and unrest was beginning to grow
    among the lower classes.
  • The war gave a huge shock to the system and,
    despite the terrible human cost, led eventually
    to a more equal society, not least because the
    poorer classes were largely the ones dying in the
    trenches as a result of orders issued by
    untrained, aristocratic generals living miles
    behind the lines.

  • The Soldier
  • If I should die, think only this of meThat
    there's some corner of a foreign field
  • That is for ever England. There shall beIn that
    rich earth a richer dust concealed
  • A dust whom England bore, shaped, made
    aware,Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways
    to roam,
  • A body of England's, breathing English
    air,Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
  • And think, this heart, all evil shed away,A
    pulse in the eternal mind, no less Gives
    somewhere back the thoughts by England given
  • Her sights and sounds dreams happy as her
    dayAnd laughter, learnt of friends and
    gentleness, In hearts at peace, under an English
  • Rupert Brooke

Wilfred Owen
  • Wilfred Owen was 21 when the war broke out.
  • he had failed to win a scholarship to university,
    he was
  • very intelligent and cultured.
  • Owen was not horrified or elated by the outbreak
    of war, although during 1914, he became more
    aware of the human sacrifice involved and was
    filled with confusion.

  • In the second week of January,
  • one of the worst in memory, he
  • led his platoon into the Battle of
  • the Somme. He wrote to his
  • mother every week and described
  • what he had been through "Those
  • fifty hours were the agony of my
  • happy life... I nearly broke down
  • and let myself drown in the water
  • that was now rising slowly above
  • my knees. In the Platoon on my left,
  • the sentries over the dug-out were
  • blown to nothing".

  • In the middle of March, Owen fell through a
    shell-hole into a cellar and was trapped in the
    dark for three days, suffering from nausea and
    concussion. He spent a fortnight in hospital
    before rejoining his battalion and becoming
    involved in fierce fighting. At one stage he was
    blown out of the trench in which he was taking
    cover from an artillery bombardment which had
    already dismembered an officer in the
    neighbouring trench.
  • He escaped uninjured, but these trials by fire
    had taken their toll on his mind, and on May 1st,
    he was seen by his Commanding Officer to be
    behaving strangely. He was ordered to
  • report to the Battalion Medical Officer who
  • found him to be shaky and with a confused
  • memory. He was eventually diagnosed as
  • having neurasthenia (shell shock) and was
  • invalided back to England and then to
  • Craiglockhart War hospital near Edinburgh.

  • Apart from his joining the army, no other event
    had so much influence over Owen as meeting
    Siegfried Sassoon at Craiglockhart. Owen read the
    published poetry of Sassoon for the first time at
    the hospital. He introduced himself, and so began
    a close friendship and literary partnership which
    would create some of the finest poetry of the
    war. Owen's most famous poems were written from
    this time until he left the hospital.
  • Owen relived his most traumatic memories every
    night through the form of obsessive nightmares.
    Under Sassoon's direction, he began to write
    about these memories in poetry. His poems
    recreated the miserable conditions and constant
    stress with which the soldiers lived the mud,
    rats, barbed wire, lice, fleas, corpses, blood
    and constant shelling. He also gave graphic
    descriptions of the effects of poison gas.

  • In one of his most famous poems Anthem for
    Doomed Youth, he asked angrily "what
    passing-bells for these who die as cattle?",
    reflecting the fact that the soldiers were simply
    little more than machine gun fodder, lines of
    them killed instantly as they went over the top.
  • Owen wrote for an entire generation of young men
    killed or horribly wounded in a four year war. In
    one poem Disabled, he wrote about the thousands
    of young men who dreamed of glory and triumph and
    joined the army with all the others in the
    factory, or on their street, or at a football
    match, where recruiting drives were often made.

  • Owen is the most famous of all the war poets as
    he succeeded in portraying the reality of the war
    - the boredom, the helplessness, the horror and
    above all, the futility of it - without losing
    his artistic poise, or allowing bitterness to
    creep into his work.
  • Wilfred Owen returned to the front in 1918 and
    was awarded the military cross for bravery for
    capturing a German machine gun. He never received
    it as he was killed early on the morning of 4th
    November 1918, seven days before the armistice.

  • Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
  • Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed
    through sludge,
  • Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
  • And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
  • Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
  • But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame all
  • Drunk with fatigue deaf even to the hoots
  • Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped
  • Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! An ecstasy of fumbling
  • Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time
  • But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
  • And floundring like a man in fire or lime
  • Dim, through the misty panes and thick green
  • As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
  • In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
  • He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

Dulce Et Decorum Est Wilfred Owen
Siegfried Sassoon
  • born in England, in 1886
  • educated at Marlborough and Cambridge where he
  • studied both law and history before leaving
    without taking
  • a degree.
  • After Cambridge, Sassoon lived the life of a
  • sportsman, hunting, riding point-to-point races
    and playing cricket until the outbreak of the
  • Although Sassoon wrote poetry before the War he
    was no more than a minor Georgian poet.
  • Sassoon enlisted on 2 August 1914, two days
    before the British declaration of war, and
    initially joined as a trooper in the Sussex
    Yeomanry later Sassoon was commissioned in the
    Royal Welsh Fusiliers (May 1915). Between
    November 1915 and April 1917 he served as a
    second lieutenant in both the First and Second
    Battalions R.W.F.
  • On November 1, 1915 Sassoon suffered his first
    personal loss of the War. His younger brother
    Hamo was buried at sea after being mortally
    wounded at Gallipoli. Sassoon subsequently
    commemorated this with a poem entitled To My
    Brother. Then on March 18, 1916 second lieutenant
    David C. 'Tommy' Thomas was killed whilst out
    with a wiring party.

  • These losses upset Sassoon and he became
    determined to "get his revenge" on the Germans.
    To this end, he went out on patrol in
    no-man's-land even when there were no raids
    planned. Such reckless enthusiasm earned him the
    nickname "Mad Jack", but he was saved from
    further folly by a four-week spell at the Army
    School in Flixecourt.
  • About a month later, he was involved in a raid on
    Kiel Trench. His actions in getting his dead and
    wounded men back to the British trenches earned
    him a Military Cross, which he received the day
    before the start of the Battle of the Somme, in
    July 1916.

  • Sassoon participated in the second Battle of the
    Scarpe where he was wounded in the shoulder. This
    particular incident started a train of events
    which culminated in Sassoon's Declaration, for it
    was whilst on convalescent leave after being
    wounded that Sassoon talked to several prominent
    pacifists (including John Middleton Murry and
    Bertrand Russell).
  • His Declaration of "wilful defiance" was written
    during this time, and he returned to the Depot in
    Liverpool having sent his statement to his
    Colonel, miserably determined to take whatever
    punishment was given out.
  • Fortunately for Sassoon, his friend and fellow
  • Welch Fusilier, Robert Graves, intervened,
  • pulled strings with the authorities and managed
  • to persuade them to have Sassoon medically
  • boarded (or referred), with the result that in
  • July 1917 he was sent to Craiglockhart War
  • Hospital, Edinburgh officially suffering from
  • shell-shock.

  • It was at Craiglockhart that Sassoon met the poet
    Wilfred Owen (also diagnosed with shell-shock).
    Sassoon's encouragement of Owen's writing has
    been well-documented.
  • Sassoon himself wrote a good deal of poetry
    whilst at Craiglockhart and the material he wrote
    at that time later appeared in Counter-Attack and
    Other Poems. After four months at Craiglockhart,
    Sassoon was again passed fit for General Service
  • He had spent many hours talking to his
  • Dr. W.H.R. Rivers and eventually realised that
  • protest had achieved nothing, except to keep him
  • away from his men his decision to apply for
  • General Service seems to have been based on his
  • perceived responsibilities at the front.

  • Sassoon eventually found himself in the Front
    Line again, near Mercatel. From there he moved to
    St. Hilaire and the Front Line at St. Floris
    where his old foolhardiness took over, despite
    the responsibility of being a Company Commander.
    Sassoon decided to attack the German trenches
    opposite them, and he went out with a young
    Corporal. His actions were paid for with a wound
    to his head on July 13, 1918, and Sassoon was
    invalided back to England. That was the end of
    Sassoon's War.
  • After a period of convalescence
  • he was placed on indefinite sick
  • leave until after the Armistice,
  • eventually retiring officially from
  • the Army in March 1919.
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