Poetry of the First World War

Today we broached the world of Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, Edward Thomas and Rupert Brooke. The focus was on the way the English language became transformed during this period with the direct impact of the horrors of the First World War. The jingoistic idealism of Rupert Brooke was kicked out by the hard hitting, grating, consonantal observation of Sassoon and Owen ( and others): “Tins, boxes, shapes too vague to know; /a mirror smashed…”God blast your neck! Get up and guide me through this stinking place.””Bent doulbe, like old beggars under sacks, /Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge…” – All the horror and detritus of human beings totally abandoned, mired in a landscape¬†totally destroyed.

What did these poets bring to this landscape through their unrelenting vision of human bestiality? Was it their capacity to see unflinchingly, to see wholly, to see with compassion, sympathy and with the deep necessary satiric irony that all governments need to be subject to?

Listen the to lecture here:


Blog Topics for Week 4:

1/ Take the first line of any one of the poets studied this week, and in the style of that poet, compose your own poem about the horror of wars as you might imagine them.

2/ Write a letter to Sassoon or Owen telling them that their vision, their ideas are still sorely needed in the world today.

3/ Create a mini-digital kit that helps newcomers with some great resources for understanding the power of war poetry.

4/ Who was May Wedderburn Cannan? Does her poetry show that women were unable to really understand the nature of war?

5/ Remember you can always create your own topics for any given week.

6/ Create an atmospheric youtube video of yourself reading and commenting on one of the war poems we have been exploring:http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-YouTube-Video

Please look out for the list of Peer URLs so that you can started on your peer reviews.

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