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Many had gone to elite schools where they received a rigorous classical education, which education tended toward idealism and especially the idealism of patriotism and fighting the good fight. But World War I was unlike any war that had preceded it. In addition, there had been general peace in Europe and the Mediterranean for 40 some years, and there was a hope and belief that such stability would be maintained.


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In the 40 years since the Franco-Prussian War, the last great war in Europe, there had been tremendous advances in the weaponry of war, and in the manufacture of weapons. Weapons were much more powerful, and produced at a greater rate. Advances in science had also increased the murderous efficiency of warriors. There was now poison gas with which to contend, and artillery shells and bombs that could do tremendous damage.

Wars were no longer fought solely between armies on the battlefield, but often included tremendous collateral damage among the civilian population. Though in its infancy, aerial warfare contributed to the spreading of the devastation. So the war that the idealistic young men entered so eagerly was not the war they experienced. The discrepancy between the rhetoric and the reality is reflected again and again in many of the poems. Siegfried Sassoon was a decorated officer in the war, but came to hate it.

Instead, his commanders declared that he was suffering from shellshock what PTSD was called in WWI and sent him to spend the final year in a psychiatric hospital in England. While there, he had a tremendous influence in other poets and war opponents, such as Wilfred Owen.

The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry

There is a lot to be said for immersing oneself in the poetic output of a poet like Sassoon, or like Owen, Blunden, or Rosenberg. But to make a good start of reading verse profoundly affected by the news of its day, a book such as The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry has a lot to recommend it. What it lacks in the breadth of works by a single poet, it makes up in providing a broad overview of the verse of the time.

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He does include poems from the Germans, Russian, French and Italian in translation; there are a few poems from the US as well, including one by Edna St. In addition to this collection of poems, I would recommend a visit to a site like poets. Bernard Norcott-Mahany , a library technical assistant at the Lucile H. Bluford Branch, is our resident connoisseur of classic literature.

The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry

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The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

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Amusements Gadgets Jewellery. Animals Characters Classic. Souvenirs Travel Accessories. Look Inside. View Large Image. Unrivalled for its range and intensity, the poetry of the First World War continues to have a powerful effect on readers.


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  • In Stock with Supplier Shipping in days. This is what makes this volume more accessible and satisfying than others. In addition to the established canon there are poems rarely anthologised and a selection of soldiers' songs to reflect the voices of the soldiers themselves. When will my order arrive? What happens if the goods are damaged when I open them up?

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