2018 marks 100 years since the end of the first world war. In tribute to this occasion, we have sourced some of the most poignant and affecting works that were written of the time.
- WILFRED OWEN DULCE ET DECORUM EST
Published in 1920
Deemed as one of the great British war poets, Wilfred Owen, served as a soldier during WW1 and compiled some of the most heart breaking poems over his short-lived career before his untimely death at the age of 25, when he was killed in action in November 1918. With an array of Owen’s works to choose from including: Anthem for doomed Youth, Disabled and Strange Meeting, it is perhaps Owen’s most notable poem that we have chosen - Dulce et Decorum Est. This poem presents the harsh reality of life in the trenches and the famous final few words: “The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est /Pro patria mori” is now arguably more famous than the Latin saying in which it derives.
- SIEGFRIED SASSOON AFTERMATH
Published in 1919
An inspiration and close personal friend of Wilfred Owen was Siegfried Sassoon, another celebrated war poet and soldier who served in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. A few of his most notable works include: A Letter Home, Suicide in the trenches, Absolutions and our choice, Aftermath. The poem Aftermath, as the title suggests depicts the ending of the war and provokes the reader to imagine the consequences of the war. His constant repetition of the line “have you forgotten yet?” ensures that the reader is abruptly and constantly reminded of the war and highlights his growing disillusionment.
- LIEUTENANT COLONEL JOHN MCCRAE IN FLANDERS FIELDS
Published December 1915
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a soldier during WW1, was an accomplished and celebrated poet whose works were used as motivational poems by the government during the war to encourage young men to join in the efforts and enlist. His most famous poem, “In Flanders Fields” has become synonymous with the sacrifice that the fallen soldiers made in the First World War. This poem discusses the
sacrifice and brutality of war and highlights the heroic efforts of the soldiers. The use of poppy imagery in this poem is also thought to have influenced the poppies we wear today on Remembrance Day.
- PHILIP LARKIN MCMXIV
Published in 1964
This is the only poem that was not written during the war that appears on our list. Instead, Larkin’s Roman numeral (standing for 1914) post-war poem takes the themes of realism and adds a human depth to his poetry. By describing the seemingly normal surroundings and using the term “husbands” to the reader, this reinforces the point that these were ordinary men who were heading into extraordinary circumstances. By the final stanza, Larkin touches on the fact that these men will not be returning from war.
- RUPERT BROOKE THE SOLDIER
Brooke, like many of the poets on this list, had enlisted during the war and was part of the Navy in WW1. Although already an accomplished author & poet, Brooke released acclaimed war poetry such as Peace and The Soldier. The later which has made our list has themes of patriotism and sentimentality. Again in a similar theme to many of the authors on this list, Brooke died in 1915 before the end of the war.