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Lyrics of the First World War: Some Comments

  • Martin Gray

Abstract

This chapter attempts to argue two main points: first, that the poetry of the First World War was perceived as a homogeneous poetic kind from very early on in its history, and that publication in anthologies was both cause and consequence of this way of perceiving it; and secondly, that the characteristic lyric forms which the trench poets utilised are a necessary aspect of their meaning.

Keywords

Subject Matter Literary Canon Trench Warfare Natural Vehicle Free Verse 
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Notes

  1. 2.
    ‘War Poetry’, in Poetry and Drama, II, no. 8 (December 1914); this essay can be more conveniently found in D. Hibberd (ed.), Poetry of the Great War: A Casebook (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1981) pp. 25–30).Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Keith Robbins, in The First World War (1984) p. 16. The proliferation of verse in wartime in the twentieth century has long been wondered at, but never adequately explained.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    From a letter of 2 August 1924, in M. Newbolt (ed.), The Later Life and Letters of Sir Henry Newbolt (London, 1924); quoted by Paul Fussell in The Great War and Modern Memory (1975) p. 26, who cites as his source Patrick Howarth, Play Up and Play the Game (1973). The relevant passage from the letter is also reprinted in J. Press, A Map of Modern English Verse (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969) p. 147, and in D. Hibberd (ed.), Poetry of the Great War: A Casebook, p. 65.Google Scholar
  4. From a letter of 2 August 1924, in M. Newbolt (ed.), The Later Life and Letters of Sir Henry Newbolt (London, 1924); quoted by Paul Fussell in The Great War and Modern Memory (1975) p. 26, who cites as his source Patrick Howarth, Play Up and Play the Game (1973). The relevant passage from the letter is also reprinted in J. Press, A Map of Modern English Verse (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969) p. 147, and in D. Hibberd (ed.), Poetry of the Great War: A Casebook, p. 65.Google Scholar
  5. From a letter of 2 August 1924, in M. Newbolt (ed.), The Later Life and Letters of Sir Henry Newbolt (London, 1924); quoted by Paul Fussell in The Great War and Modern Memory (1975) p. 26, who cites as his source Patrick Howarth, Play Up and Play the Game (1973). The relevant passage from the letter is also reprinted in J. Press, A Map of Modern English Verse (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969) p. 147, and in D. Hibberd (ed.), Poetry of the Great War: A Casebook, p. 65.Google Scholar
  6. From a letter of 2 August 1924, in M. Newbolt (ed.), The Later Life and Letters of Sir Henry Newbolt (London, 1924); quoted by Paul Fussell in The Great War and Modern Memory (1975) p. 26, who cites as his source Patrick Howarth, Play Up and Play the Game (1973). The relevant passage from the letter is also reprinted in J. Press, A Map of Modern English Verse (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969) p. 147, and in D. Hibberd (ed.), Poetry of the Great War: A Casebook, p. 65.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Notoriously, the poets of the First World War were omitted from Roberts’s The Faber Book of Modern Verse because of their lack of formal experimentation. However, experiments were being made, if infrequently: for example, Robert Nichols’s The Assault, published in Ardours and Endurances (1917) and also included in Georgian Poetry 1916–1917 (1917), is in free verse of a crude kind, laced with obtrusive rhymes, a form devised in response to an attempt at narrative description.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Gray

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