The War Poets
"A war poet is a poet who participates
in a war and writes about his experiences, or a non-combatant who
writes poems about war. While the term is applied especially to
those who served during World War I, the term can be applied to a
poet of any nationality writing about any war ... In World War I,
for the first time, a substantial number of important British poets
were soldiers, writing about their experiences of war. A number of
them died on the battlefield ... [others] survived but were scarred
by their experiences, and this was reflected in their poetry ...
Many poems by British war poets were published in newspapers and
then collected in anthologies. Several of these anthologies were
published during the war and were very popular, though the tone of
the poetry changed as the war progressed..."
Why the War Poets Matter
"The strength of the war poets
... is not that they are all that representative of the opinions of
the time. It would be foolish to think that poetry ought to be
representative. Their strength really comes from the way that they
reworked the words and thoughts of the time and rose above the
immediacy of war fervour. They were blessed, if that is not too
grotesque a word, with a deeply poetic and literary moment, where
words rose up to lead men on to extraordinary deeds..."
The Muse in Arms
"The Muse in Arms is an anthology of British war poetry published in
November 1917 during World War I. It consists of 131 poems by 52
contributors, with the poems divided into fourteen thematic
sections. The poets were all from three branches of the armed
services, land, sea, and air, from a range of ranks (though mostly
officers) and from many parts of the UK. Twenty of the poets who
contributed to this volume died during the war..."
Remember Them More Honestly (November 2019)
"This year sees the
centenary of the Versailles peace conference and the eightieth
anniversary of the outbreak of the second war. Surely both are now
so long ago that we are more free to think about them. What would
that freedom mean? Perhaps the best way to explain it is through the
poetry which is such a part of remembrance of war in this country.
It should mean a little less Laurence Binyon and a little less Cecil
Spring-Rice, for a start. And no Rupert Brooke at all and a bit more
A.E. Houseman and a bit more Siegfried Sassoon too. And a little
more of the hard truth ... Edward Thomas's unbearable In Memorium,
Easter 1915 which begins so innocently with 'The flowers left
thick at nightfall in the woods...' should be read and followed
by a silence long enough for its terrible meaning to become
The War Poems
In Flanders Fields
(by John McCrae, MD)
"On May 2, 1915, John McCrae's close
friend and former student Alexis Helmer was killed by a German shell
... The next day ... as John McCrae was writing his In Flanders
Fields poem, Sergeant-Major Cyril Allinson silently watched and
later recalled, 'His face was very tired but clam as he wrote. He
looked around from time to time, his eyes straying to Helmer's grave
... when he was done, without a word, McCrae handed the poem to
Allinson. Allinson was deeply moved..."
For the Fallen (by Robert
"The poem was written in mid September
1914, a few weeks after the outbreak of the First World War. During
these weeks the British Expeditionary Force had suffered casualties
following its first encounter with the Imperial German Army at the
Battle of Mons on 23 August ... Laurence said in 1939 that the four
lines of the fourth stanza came to him first. These words of the
fourth stanza have become especially familiar and famous..."
(by Rupert Brooke)
"Perhaps his most famous poem, it
reflects British sorrow over and pride in the young men who died in
World War I. Narrated in the first person by an English soldier, the
poem is sentimental, patriotic, and epitaphic. In the closing
sestet, the poem's speaker suggests that his soul is eternally
linked with England. The poem's familiar opening lines acquired even
greater poignancy as a result of Brooke's own wartime death"
Dulce et Decorum Est
(by Wilfred Owen)
"They would not print Wilfred Owen's
poem until after the war. Wilfred Owen died on the last day of war
For me, he epitomises
Soldier X" [viewer's
Suicide in the Trenches
(by Siegfried Sassoon)
"This is one of the many poems the poet
Siegfried Sassoon composed in response to World War I, reflecting
his own notable service in that especially bloody conflict. Sassoon
was a brave and gallant upper-class officer who eventually opposed
the war, but never lost his admiration for the common soldiers who
had to fight it. Sassoon felt contempt for the political leaders and
civilian war hawks who, safe in their power and comfort, sent young
men off to die in huge battles that seemed futile and pointless ...
[and] brought home to an uninformed public the true reality of the
ghastly nature of the war" [source].
(by Siegfried Sassoon)
Readers' comments: "Very
emotional and captures the horrific scenes" / "These war
poems make one remember those who served ... and those who need to
be honoured by us" / "This poem is going to haunt me for
a long time. Powerful. Heartbreaking. Wise. And it hurts in that way
that truth has of hurting" / "Raw and emotional, this
poem really hits home, and shows the brutal and vicious cycle that
is war" / "First hand account of the futility of war"
In Memoriam Easter 2015 (by
"The manuscript of
Edward Thomas's In Memoriam [Easter 1915] reveals that this
sophisticated four-line poem has been given its elaborate title by
an editor at a later date. '6.IV.15', by comparison, is
suitably bare, suitably unembellished, and it seems right for a poem
which withholds more than it explicitly voices..."
(by Rudyard Kipling)
"'Tommy' is such a powerful poem with
its context percolating through decades at a stretch. At one point,
you feel that little knot tighten up in your throat and your mind
knows how true the words are. The people, the government, they
promise a better lifestyle for the soldiers, but in reality, they
didn't even receive extra rations. But Tommy is not a fool..." [source].
Poems, Odes, Songs, Tributes
Soldiers Remembrance Day Song - If You're Reading This
(Published on 05 November 2019)
version by Kelly Beynon-Wing.
"I found this song, listened to it once
and cried - the true reality of the families that lost their loved
ones and still do"
MCMXIV (Published on 09 June 2019)
Written by Philip Larkin in 1964. "Never such
innocence; never before or since" /
"Millions of decent men cut down in their prime FOR THIS" /
"All of those brave, brave men all either injured or died and for
what? For us now to just fold and give our country away" /
"Never forget the past, for it shapes our future" / "Is
this the future the men and boys in 1914 and 1939 fought for?"
/ "They gave up everything to preserve the Britain they knew
and loved. But those brave young men WERE Britain. They were
everything that made it great. And without them, the country fell to
ruin and became the mess it is today" / "Tell my
ancestors there is no such thing as being English" /
"Such strong generations mainly forgotten in this [today's] clown
world" / "I wonder, in this day and age, would Britons
be so willing?" / "Lest we forget" / "The
generation that went to war in 1914 was one of the most courageous
and patriotic" / "Amazing men, made to do the
unspeakable" / "...only to be betrayed by their
own government. Shame on our politicians" / "A
desperately sad video. The enormity of what we have lost is
overwhelming, incomprehensible" / "Great Britain once a
vestige of Anglo Saxon culture and accomplishment is now reduced to
a third world cesspit"
Reflections on Remembrance Sunday
(11 November 2018)
"Brave soldiers in their graves
revolve as EU leaders now resolve to render hard won victories to
nought / On foreign soil in two world wars, they kept invaders from
Hallelujah - Soldiers Version (Published on 10
note that as from 12 November 2019 this Youtube is only accessible
by signing in. It was freely available yesterday (11th) and
had been so for the past year since its publication. There is
no discernible reason why it should now be considered by YouTube as
'inappropriate for some viewers' , but this kind of tiresome
and patronising politically correct nannying is becoming more and
more prevalent amongst social media platforms as they jump to
encourage and contribute to the loss of the very freedoms for which
our Armed Forces sacrificed their lives - which irony seems to have
bypassed the minds of these infantile social media SJWs...
Cover version by Kelly Beynon. "This song was recorded
to commemorate the end of the first world war, and for all the men
and women who have served this country and for those who have
suffered or died for the privileges that we have today... I salute
you all" / Viewers' comments:
"A beautiful rendition of a beautiful tune with haunting lyrics"
/ "beautifully sung - with simplicity and grace" /
"Thank you brave men, you did all this for us, we could have been in
camps ir anything by the Germans and you made that not happen. You
guys fought hard for us, some of you were only about 18 or 16 and
you still did it. Such brave men, I salute you" / "The
poppy is the first thing that was beautiful to grow out of the place
that was worse than hell itself, the flower was also the same colour
of blood. Remember not only the victories and defeats but remember
all the men and women from both sides and the ones who stood aside
that died so we may never create those atrocities again"
If You're Reading This (Published on 01 March 2018)
Written by and performed by Tim McGraw. /
Viewers' comments: "Thank
you from the bottom of my heart to the brave men and women who
sacrificed everything for this great country. Also to their
families. We are all in your debt" / "I heard this song
in my school's veterans day program when they commemorate the death
of a soldier and it reminded of my grandfather. Thank you for your
service pawpaw" / "Rest in Peace Chris Kyle, you will be
missed, a true American hero., rest well brother..."
Brothers In Arms (Published on 06 July 2017)
and recorded by Mark Knopfler.
"The live concert 'A Night in London'
was recorded in the BBC building in 1996" /
Viewers' comments: "This
song will be played at this soldier's funeral as they roll my casket
out the church" / "Listening to this reminds me of the
guys that didn't come back with me" / "A great song for
this time of violence in the world" / "This is the most
meaningful song to express the weary soul of soldiers and veterans.
It has become my Remembrance Day anthem" / "The utter
destruction of life that is so senseless"
Hallelujah Veterans Version (Published on 10 May 2017)
and recorded by Sailor Jerri.
"I rewrote Hallelujah for our Veterans.
Every picture in this video was sent to me by the great members of
our Armed Forces ... Thank you so much for your service and your
support" / Viewers' comments:
"I am a Vietnam Vet, as I read the comments below and see the
negative ones it brings back memories of when I came home. As I have
gotten older I have figured out those people and the ones here are
simply using the rights I and so many others fought for in Vietnam
and other wars to protect, so what I say to you is this, You are
welcome. I am glad you use those rights no matter how many you hurt
with your words. Freedom is not free, and the truest test of freedom
is to allow others to say the things that hurt the most" /
"This hits home, girl, even for this Royal Netherlands Navy veteran.
Thank you" / "As a vet, the 771 dislikes is morally
reprehensible, as an American it sickens me. Thank you to my
brothers and sisters who have served and those who now carry the
torch. Thank you for your profound rendition Sailor"
More viewers' comments: "We went we were sent...
we did what was ordered... we were serious about it but showed good
humour... friends were lost doing the same... they spit on our
uniforms when back we came... using the freedom that we gave"
/ "I served in the British Navy and met a few of your USMC and
US Navy lads during the Vietnam was when I was overseas and I can
still see the pain in some of their eyes ... They were a good set of
lads, and I hope your song brings some solace to them all" /
"As a Veteran of the Angolan war of 1965-1988 where we stopped the
expansion of the Soviet empire, I salute all Veterans" /
"Because of all the Armed Forces, we have a great nation. Thank you
to all who served and still serve. Because of your sacrifices, we
have the FREEDOM" / "I'm a Canadian Army Cadet. This
version of Hallelujah was introduced to me today at one of our
remembrance day parades. Upon first hearing this, I was moved by the
ability and want to create something in relevance for our veterans
and fallen soldiers. Looking at this video, and the comments that
follow, I realised that this has taken a great toll on many. Thank
More viewers' comments: "Thank you to all of the
brave men and women who sacrificed everything for us and our
families. For serving our Country and protecting us. God bless you"
/ "This song is about the brave men and women who have gone
through hell on earth to defend this country and they deserve our
respect and gratitude. God bless this country, God bless you Sailor
Jerri for writing this, and most of all God bless you and thank you
Veterans for fighting to keep the country I line in safe" /
"Thank you from my heart for this. Service connected disabled
Vietnam Vet. To my brothers who didn't come home and to Matt who
died with the 101st in Helmand in 2010 I dedicate this. Damn I miss
you all" / "In a few years I'm going to join the US
army. I'm afraid of what I will see but I'm willing to fight and die
for my country. Pray for me please. God bless"
( / Published on 20 August 2016)
and recorded by The Strawbs in 1969. "In the early dawn the Bishop's
men / Shivered in the damp / But the shiver came not from the cold /
And spread throughout the camp / The trembling horses sensed the
fear / Of silent thoughtful men / Who prayed that wives and families
/ Might see them once again..." /
"Wonderful... poetic, chilling, violent, soothing, the best anti war
song ever. of course it describes a game of chess... genius"
No Man's Land / Green Fields of France / Willie McBride
(Published on 20 September 2014)
Cover rersion by
The Fureys. "Well how do you do, Private William McBride / Do you mind if
I sit here down by your grave side? / A rest for awhile in the warm
summer sun / I've been walking all day and I'm nearly done / And I
see by your gravestone that you were only nineteen / When you joined
the glorious fallen in nineteen-sixteen..."
No Man's Land / The Green Fields of France / Willie McBride
(Published on 05 March 2013)
"This poignant song was
written by Eric Bogle in 1975. This is what he said about the song:
'When I was in Northern France in 1975, I stopped at a small
battalion cemetery near the Belgian border. It was a beautiful
little spot, very peaceful, the sun was shining and poppies grew in
the fields. It was so beautiful that one could almost forget the
Great Obscenity that had murdered the 310 soldiers lying buried on
that cemetery. Almost, but not quite. I wrote this song two months
later.' The last verse carries a very powerful message,
extremely relevant to this day:..."
The Band Played Waltzing Matilda (Published on 16
by Eric Bogel in 1971.
"Recorded live at Stoneyfell Winery, Adelaide, South Australia on
1st March 2009" / Viewers'
comments: "I was a soldier. I was injured through
an IED. I am proud to have been a soldier. But this song, I am
broken..." / "I served in the U.S. Marines in Vietnam in
1969-1970. I heard this song for the first time in 1978 ... it
resonated with my experiences in a much later conflict ... Its
message transcends wars, the sides are irrelevant. it's about
sacrifice, honour, commitment and ... the futility of war" /
"Perhaps one of the most powerful songs ever written. The words
should be studied by every school student a week before ANZAC day so
they will have a very clear understanding [of] what war is all about
and the suffering that so many heroes endured. Thank you Eric Bogle
for making it as it really was" / "In Australia we mourn
the dead and the suffering. If you are ever in Australia on the 25th
April of any year, get to the Cenotaph in Martin Place in Sydney.
Get there early, before dawn, 4am, and watch and absorb what
happens. Stay there until midday to watch the march and absorb the
emotion of a nation grieving"
Remembrance Day (Published on 03 November 2011)
Written by Mark Knopfler in 2009. The theme and message
is universal... 'We will remember them'" /
Viewers' comments: "These
photos are as worthy of this beautiful, poignant song as the song is
of the heart-rending photos. Thank you" / "I played this
song at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Remembrance Day in
Ottawa... Lest We Forget" / "Absolutely beautiful
tribute song to these honoured dead. These men who fought and died
and were moved around like chess pieces deserve our highest and most
humble and deepest respect ... [They] lost their lives defending the
free world ... Younger people should be educated on the tremendous
sacrifices that were made that ensured the freedoms that most of
them take completely for granted"
Remembrance (by Lawrence A.
Foxen) (No Date)
"'In Flanders fields, the poppies
grow', Those famous words that we all know. But
through the year and in November, Do we truly all
I Vow To Thee My Country - Festival of Remembrance 2017
(Published on 13 November 2017)
glorious instrumental version of this hymn. "The Royal
British legion, whose patron is HM Queen Elizabeth II, holds its
annual Festival of Remembrance at Royal Albert Hall in London on
11th November 2017" / Viewers'
comments: "Very moving tribute to those who have
fallen and those who have served valiantly" / "The only
enemy which can defeat the United Kingdom is herself. As long as the
confidence of the British people remains strong, no travails in this
world can triumph over the spirit of Britain. Stand strong Britain,
remember your accomplishments, remember your history..." /
"Remember the poor boys that suffered in the mud and blood of the
Marne, Verdun, the Somme, Passchendaele..."
I Vow To Thee My Country (Published on 31 October
Viewer's comment: "What a WONDERFUL
I Vow To Thee My Country (Published on 21 October
Dedicated to Lee Rigby, died May 2013.
"This song is usually
associated with Britain, but I believe we can share it for this,
because a stronger bond holds us together... The love for our
own country and the respect for our militaries" /
Viewer's comment: "God
bless and keep all who have and are serving their country. They
fight for us, for Freedom. God bless and watch over their families"
May We Never Forget
Just 19 years old when
some were told
We need you all or our country will fall.
Never knowing for sure if they'd return to shore,
The horror endured as they lost friends adored;
Unbearably worse than they could possibly converse.
Is it too much to ask that their dreadful task
be remembered whatever with thanks forever?...
Men in trenches, bit by
rats, foul putrid gas tears through the air,
Ice cold mud seeps through their bones, while death beckons
Bodies strewn across the land, and hung on fences high,
Blazing guns still fire in frenzy, blocking out a young man's cry;
He was one of many millions, who died in no man's land
Who would never again kiss their children
or hold their sweetheart's hand.
Who would never again hug their mother, as she bade him a fond
Who would never again shake their father's hand, or tell jokes by
For four long years the battle raged, till it finally fell to its
And in the fields of France where the brave now rest,
Red poppies dance in the breeze.
[From a reader at
To the Female Suffering From A Severe Case
of 'White Privilege' and
You seem to think it fun
that your ancestors did die, that you have some legitimacy to your
treacherous, hateful cry,
You want us to dance on the graves of our men, you scorn them with
insults, with your electronic pen,
You giggle and snarl like a degenerate child, thrilled with the
commotion of which you have riled.
But know this and listen, the roads where you stand were built and
created with those great male hands.
The device which you use to spread all your lies would not even be
possible without their death cries.
You cuddle up tight in
your soft warm bed; those men slept in trenches where they suffered
You dwell in an ivory tower shielded by comfortable things, yet you
have no knowledge of suffering or the real pain it brings.
Those seats you sit upon up mighty and high are built on the
cemeteries of the dead - since for you they did die.
Those graves you dance upon in your frenzy of hate are the graves of
those who gave you all you had - and your reply?
Is to berate.
Every comfort you have,
every freedom you breathe, it was given as an inheritance, from the
men who did bleed,
Everything you know, every simple pleasure, every right, passion, or
Was given to you by your fathers; by men who loved you dear,
Who were slaughtered like cattle in the millions, just so would know
Men who gasped for breath as their bodies tormented with pain, died
like this for you so you would never feel the same.
Not only did they build
everything you see, they sacrificed their lives, for you, and for
What sacrifice do you make? What thanks do you give?
To acknowledge these men who died just so that you and I could live?
You suffer with an ailment, a poison of mind, that even a mere'
thank you' you just cannot find.
From a woman.
[Written by a reader
Lost Causes by R.H.
"He paused to puff life
into the pipe, a glossy sheen settling over his eyes. 'I have
served my country now for more than fifty years,' he went on. 'And
in that time, I've fought alongside thousands of men; men from all
walks of life; men who were hungry, exhausted, and hopelessly
outnumbered; men who were shelled and shot at until they were
senseless; men who should have surrendered or run, but, who, through
it all, laughed and sang and cried and kept on fighting. In
exchange, they never asked for very much. Only the promise
that what they were dying for wouldn't die with them; that future
generations would never forget what they had done; that somehow
they, and the values they fought for, would become enshrined ion the
"His speech slowed now,
the tone deepening. 'Of course, I can't claim to know what
those values were,' he said. 'Every man had his own. But I do
know what they didn't include. It didn't include a country
that would voluntarily surrender its sovereignty to its
long-standing enemies. Nor did they fight for a system which
would tax, harass and spy on them every minute of every day; in
which they couldn't even say a joke - let alone a much needed home
truth - without fear of official reprisal. And they sure as
hell didn't fight and die for a Britain in which their grandchildren
would grow up to call them fascists...'
"He paused again,
collecting his thoughts. 'I never thought I'd say it, but
looking back, the ones that died were the lucky ones. They
didn't live to see the great betrayal that was to follow, to see the
wasting of all their efforts. We couldn't have made it a land
less fit for heroes to live in if we'd tried, and to be honest I
can't say I care what happens anymore...'"
[Quoted from the
novel Lost Causes by a reader at
"Men fight for liberty
and win it with hard knocks.
Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools.
And their grandchildren are once more slaves."
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Canadian Army (1872-1918)
"[T]he foe of which John McCrae wrote were not the people in the
The foe were tyranny and dictatorship ... our soldiers knew this ...
Yes, we have indeed dropped the torch! Yes, we have indeed broken
faith with those who died and lie in Flanders Fields! ...
and yes, we will have to bear the consequences in the years to
thing there is a
season, and a time to
every purpose under the
A time to be born, and a
time to die; a time to
plant, and a time to
that which is
A time to kill, and a
time to heal; a time to
break down, and a time
to build up;
A time to weep, and a
time to laugh; a time to
mourn, and a time to
A time to cast away
stones, and a time to
gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a
time to refrain from
A time to get, and a
time to lose; a time to
keep, and a time to cast
A time to rend, and a
time to sew; a time to
keep silence, and a time
A time to love, and a
time to hate; a time of
war, and a time of
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