First World War Poems from the Front

Posted on centenarynews.com on 18 July 2014
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Author: Paul O'Prey
Publication Date: 19 June 2014

Publisher's Description

"Throughout the First World War a small handful of soldiers and nurses created a body of poetry so vivid and intense that one hundred years later it remains in our national consciousness.

This collection, edited by Professor Paul O’Prey, looks to challenge the notion that all war poetry was of a similar anti-war sentiment, focusing on fifteen poets who all saw active military service and composed poems while they worked, nursed and fought.

Poems from the Front includes ‘November 11th’ by Robert Graves, appearing for the first time as a poem in its own right. A street ballad, it was written in draft to arts patron Edward Marsh in November 1918. Persuaded not to publish it that year, Graves instead released a version in 1969, considering it unprintable until then.

The anthology also features ‘When you see millions of the mouthless dead’ by Charles Sorley, an unfinished poem found in his kit bag after he had been killed, highlighting the circumstances in which many poets found themselves as they wrote.

Three poems by the American nurse Mary Borden are published for the first time, having only previously existed in handwritten drafts. Borden, already an author at the outbreak of the First World War, was independently wealthy but chose to enlist in the French Red Cross in 1914, and funded and ran her own military field hospital, close to the front line.

Other poets featured are Laurence Binyon, Edmund Blunden, Vera Brittain, Rupert Brooke, May Cannan, Ivor Gurney, David Jones, Wilfred Owen, Isaac Rosenberg, Siegfried Sassoon, Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy and Edward Thomas." 

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To read Eleanor's interview with Paul O'Prey, click here.

 

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