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MODERN: WAR POETRY

OWEN: Jeremy Paxman on contradiction
The fascination of his life is his embodiment of contradictions.

OWEN: Owen on being a soldier
“It is a great life, you could not be visited by a band of friends half so fine as surround me here.

OWEN: Guy Cuthbertson on tone
This wobbling of tone between starkness and sentimentality is one of the more challenging things about Owen’s poetry.

OWEN: The Spring Offensive inspiration
Early on the morning of 14th April 1917, Owen’s battalion, the 2nd Manchesters left Savy Wood with orders to attack a trench on the west side of St.Quentin, part of the British and French armies Spring Offensive against the Hindenburg Line.

OWEN: Dulce et Decorum context
In October 1917 Wilfred Owen wrote to his mother from Craiglockhart, “Here is a gas poem, done yesterday……..the famous Latin tag (from Horace, Odes) means of course it is sweet and meet to die for one’s country. Sweet! and decorous!”

OWEN:Kenneth Simcox on Dulce and heat
A poem seemingly written at white heat.

OWEN:Sassoon on Strange Meeting
Owen’s passport to immortality

OWEN: his first review on compassion
Others have shown the disenchantment of war, have unlegended the roselight and romance of it, but none with such compassion for the disenchanted nor such sternly just and justly stern judgment on the idyllisers.

OWEN: Geoff Dyer on speaking from the grave
To a nation stunned by grief, the prophetic lag of posthumous publication made it seem that Owen was speaking from the other side of the grave.

OWEN: number of poems
Only five poems were published in his lifetime

OWEN:Geoff Dyer on the missing
•Owen was the medium through whom the missing spoke.

C.P on disenchanted
Such compassion for the disenchanted or such sternly just and justly stern judgment on the idyllisers.

OWEN: C.P on pain
It is the poetry of pain, searing and piercing to pity; it is the poetry of the Tragic Muse

OWEN: C.P on vision of the heart
To that vision he added an imagination of the heart that made him sure of his values

OWEN: C.P on heart of man
Owen uses words with the poet’s questing instinct for the heart of things and his homing instinct for the heart of man.

OWEN: Hibberd on new modes
Owen was able to forge a new mode for war poetry, neither Graves’s cool stoicism nor Sassoon’s tormented satire.

OWEN: Alexandra Mullen on the Wasteland
Thrifty Owen loathed the waste of the wasteland.

OWEN: Owen’s preface on subject
My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity.

OWEN: Owen on heroes
This book is not about heroes. English poetry is not yet fit to speak of them.

OWEN: Preface
All a poet can do today is warn. That is why the true Poets must be truthful.

OWEN: Santanu Das on Dulce and teasing
Teases us with its combination of meaning and materiality

OWEN: Santanu Das on Dulce’s power
The power of his finest poems lies not just in its anti-war polemic or realism or even pity but in something far more subtle, more risqué, more disturbing.

OWEN: Santanu Das on Dulce’s setting
He sets the war-ravaged body and mind against the abstract rhetoric of honour and sacrifice.

OWEN: Santanu Das on pain and sensuality
Pain and theatricality are often the twin components in Owen’s poetry.

OWEN: Santanu Das on sound and tongues
Sound plays a particularly important role in a poem that climaxes on a macabre contrast between tongues: the lacerated tongue of the soldier and the grand polysyllabic sound of the Latin phrase

OWEN: Freud on terror
feelings of apprehension, fright or horror have a sexually exciting effect

OWEN: Dominic Hibberd on roots of visions
the root of such visions go beyond war trauma to his pre-War adolescent nightmares revolving around guilt, sexual conflict and unresolved tensions

OWEN:Dominic Hibberd on reading Dulce
We seldom read ‘Dulce’: it is usually a matter of re-reading, returning, remembering, with pain, pleasure, pity, even resistance

THOMAS: Vernon Scannell on limitation
Thomas is unquestionably a limited poet.

THOMAS: Scannell on Whitman
Whitmans influence on Thomas Vernon

THOMAS: Vernon Scannell on honesty
This honesty is one of his great strengths; it toughens the war poem, This is No Case of Petty Right or Wrong, and adds a sardonic flavouring to many pieces which might otherwise invite charges of sentimentality.

THOMAS: Vernon Scannell on Thomas youth
What I have been trying to suggest is that Thomas did not write poetry when he was younger because his poetic personality was of a kind which had to have time in which to mature.

THOMAS: Vernon Scannell on formal compulsion
A few of the poems appear to proceed from no centre of compulsion and they read like formal exercises

THOMAS: Vernon Scannell on self discovery
Self-knowledge, then, is the goal of the human spirit and discontent is its condition. The questing mind of the poet, despite occasional and ultimately ineffective distractions, moves after its quarry through a landscape which is at once symbolic and concrete

THOMAS: Matthew Hollis on categorisation
Edward Thomas is a poet who defies categorisation.

THOMAS: Matthew Hollis on successful poetry
His most successful “war poetry” tends to be glancing rather than confrontational

THOMAS: Matthew Hollis on detached observer
He was no, no Georgian Poet: he is a detached observer of the rural scene rather than a romantic pastoralist, and his poems still seem radically modern.

THOMAS: Matthew Hollis on the Soul
It is significant that Thomas used the same metaphor for marriage as he did for journalism: both, he believed, “encrusted the Soul”.

THOMAS: Matthew Hollis on country writing vs wartime composition
His poetry certainly shows a strong attachment to country writing, but also bears the mark of its wartime composition in its often violent themes and syntax.

Matthew Hollis on Frost and the war
Edward Thomas and Robert Frost were sitting on an orchard stile near Little Iddens, Frost’s cottage in Gloucestershire, in 1914, when word arrived that Britain had declared war on Germany.

THOMAS: Thomas on touched by war
A man will not easily write better than he speaks when some matter has touched him deeply,

THOMAS: Frost on his indebtedness to Thomas
He gave me standing as a poet, he more than anyone else.

THOMAS: William Cooke on the early poems
His early poems are subtly patriotic, elegiac for the people and places of England that were already passing before the war began to accelerate the process.

THOMAS: Gerald Roberts on seeking something
His poetry frequently is about seeking something – a place of rest, an answer to restlessness… an idealisation of home.

THOMAS: John Wain on what Thomas sees in countryside
In a landscape Thomas does not see God, but himself, an can study his own mind in a state of contemplation.

THOMAS: Millard on divorce and the individual
ET’s poetry reflects “the divorce between the individual and society.

THOMAS: RS Thomas on the borders of mind
Somewhere beyond the borders of Thomas’s mind, there was a world that he could never quite come at

THOMAS: RS Thomas on the spirit
Scrupulous self-searching honesty… his musing, half-wry, half melancholy spirit.

THOMAS: Gerald Roberts on insight
He offers insights into experience which arouse feelings beyond the power of language to convey fully.

THOMAS: Peter Childs on meaning
His poems, because they call into question the referentially of language, call into question the union of the signifier and signified, the ability of names to carry full meaning.

THOMAS: Keats Ode to a Nightingale
“Half in love with easeful Death… No more than ever seems it rich to die.”

THOMAS: Stan Smith on ATTHB
Part of the poem’s quality lies in its refusal to round off so easily to patriotic closure… as the enemies are excluded from the community disclosure.

THOMAS: Stan Smith on LO
The self is ready to abandon book and face [and instead] welcomes solitude.

THOMAS: Alun Lewis on integrality of war
War became for Thomas an integral part of his life experience, not a violent thought-slaying wound as it was to Owen

THOMAS: Edna Longley on the pinch of earth
He stopped, an picked up a pinch of earth ‘literally, for this.’

THOMAS: Gerald Roberts on his melancholy
His melancholy is personal, rather than a result of some ‘world sorrow’ or unhappiness about the course of modern civilisation

THOMAS: Jan Marsh on the key
the sense of searching (for the) mislaid key, is the central theme to Thomas’ life and works

THOMAS: Mark Rawlinson on solitude and enlistment
Rain is endued with the solitude-in-public which I the other side of the coin of the freedom from responsibility which has so often been claimed to follow from enlistment

THOMAS: Edna Longley on fatalism and Sassoon
Thomas’s fatalism is quite distinct from the radical political programme of Sassoon it modules into a resignation in the face of the inscrutable

GENERAL: Shelley on love
The great sextet of morals is love… a man to be greatly god must put himself in the place of others the pains and pleasures of his species must become his own

GENERAL: Desmond Graham on new calm and terror
Poem after poem is a kind of preliminary farewell to what he believes he must leave. A new calm has come with a new but well-buried terror

GENERAL: Desmond Graham on war in the mind
For the poet the war exists only in the mind, as something ahead of him or happens to others

DEDE on beggars
“Bent double, like old beggars under sacks”

DEDE on coughing
“Knock-Kneed, coughing like hags”

DEDE on tirednes
“Drunk with fatigue”

DEDE on gas speech
“Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!”

“An ecstasy of fumbling” DEDE on fumbling

From gloom’s last dregs these long-strung creatures crept, TS on gloom

TS on holes
And vanished out of dawn down hidden holes.

TS in parenthesis
(And smell came up from those foul openings /As out of mouths, or deep wounds deepening.)

SO on sleep
Carelessly slept.

SO on racing
raced together/ Over an open stretch of herb and heather/ Exposed.

SO on poppies
oft sudden cups/ Opened in thousands for their blood

SM on eyes and hands
piteous recognition in fixed eyes, /Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless.

SM on the enemy
“I am the enemy you killed, my friend. / I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned / Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed./ I parried; but my hands were loath and cold. / Let us sleep now. . . .”

DEDE on choking
“He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.”

DEDE on bodies in wagon
“Behind the wagon we flung him in’

DEDE on blood
“the blood come gargling”

DEDE on lime
Floundering like a man in fire or lime

TS on backs
I saw their bitten backs curve, loop, and straighten, I watched those agonies curl, lift, and flatten.

SO on drugs and bones
Like the injected drug for their bones’ pains,

SM boiling body
discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.

SM on wheels
blood had clogged their chariot-wheels,

DEDE on the devil
Like a devil sick of sin

TS on soul and levels
My soul looked down from a vague height with Death,

TS on death and moan
And Death fell with me, like a deepening moan.

TS on feet
Showed me its feet, the feet of many men,

TS on head
And the fresh-severed head of it, my head.

SO on end of the world
Knowing their feet had come to the end of the world.

SO on souls
Sharp on their souls

SO on out-fiending
And there out-fiending all its fiends and flames/ With superhuman inhumanities,

SM on thought or death
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.

SM on hours
But mocks the steady running of the hour,/ And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.

DEDE motto
“My friend, you would not tell with such high zest To children ardent for some desperate glory, The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.”

SM on hope
Whatever hope is yours/ Was my life also;

SO on comrades
Regained cool peaceful air in wonder—/Why speak they not of comrades that went under?

SM
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.

SM on pity
I mean the truth untold, / The pity of war, the pity war distilled

SM on mystery and mastery
Courage was mine, and I had mystery; /Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery:

SM on truths
truths that lie too deep for taint.

SM on citadels
vain citadels that are not walled

Preface on subject of war
“My subject is War, and the pity of War.”

Preface in pity
“The poetry is in the pity”

Preface on elegies and consolatory
“Yet these elegies are to this generation in no sense consolatory, They may be to the next”

DEDE on sea and drowning
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning”

TS on beard
Across its beard, that horror of harsh wire,

SO on wasps
murmurous with wasp and midge,

SO on summer
For though the summer oozed into their veins

SO on hours
Hour after hour they ponder the warm field—

SO on the sun
The sun, like a friend with whom their love is done.

R on solitude
On this bleak hut, and solitude, and me

ATTHB on what to lose
“If I could only come back again, I should./ I could spare an arm. I shouldn’t want to lose/ A leg. If I should lose my head, why, so,/ I should want nothing more. . . .

R on blessed dead
Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon:

R on helpless
Helpless among the living and the dead,

R on love of death
Like me who have no love which this wild rain /Has not dissolved except the love of death,

LO on sleep and deep
I have come to the borders of sleep, /The unfathomable deep

LO on ending
Suddenly now blurs,/ And in they sink.

R on solitude
born into solitude.

R on the tempest
If love it be towards what is perfect and / Cannot, the tempest tells me, disappoint.

TINPC on Germans
I hate not Germans, nor grow hot/ With love of Englishmen, to please newspapers.

TINPC on kaiser
Beside my hate for one fat patriot/ My hatred of the Kaiser is love true/ A kind of god he is, banging a gong.

TINPC on war and argument
Dinned/ With war and argument I read no more

TINPC on Englands mother
Out of the other an England beautiful/ And like her mother that died yesterday.

TINPC on historians
I shall miss something that historians/ Can rake out of the ashes when perchance/ The phoenix broods serene above their ken.

R on god save england
But with the best and meanest Englishmen/I am one in crying, God save England

TINPC on the dust
The ages made her that made us from dust:

TINPC
And as we love ourselves we hate our foe.

ATTHB on weather and war
Upon the handles to say or ask a word,/ About the weather, next about the war.

ATTHB on everything in another world
Everything/ Would have been different. For it would have been/ Another world.”

ATTHB on lovers in wood
The lovers came out of the wood again:/ The horses started and for the last time

LO everything ends
Here love ends,/ Despair, ambition ends;/ All pleasure and all trouble,/ Although most sweet or bitter,/ Here ends in sleep that is sweeter /Than tasks most noble.

LO shelf
Ahead, shelf above shelf; /Its silence I hear and obey /That I may lose my way /And myself.

R reeds
Like a cold water among broken reeds,

ATTHB beginning
As the team’s head-brass flashed out on the turn/ The lovers disappeared into the wood.

ATTHB on blizzard
The blizzard felled the elm

ATTHB on the war over
The ploughman said. “When will they take it away?”/ “When the war’s over.”

ATTHB on march
It was back in March,/ The very night of the blizzard, too. Now if/ He had stayed here we should have moved the tree.”

LO on sleep
I have come to the borders of sleep, /The unfathomable deep

LO on dawn and road
Many a road and track/That, since the dawn’s first crack,

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