This blog is intended to help you in your study of the literature of the First World War. It’s a project of the staff and students of the English Department at Southfields Community College, London, UK: together we’re exploring the poetry of the Great War, 1914-18.
Using Jon Stallworthy’s ‘Oxford Book of War Poetry’ as our source text (pp. 160-225), this blog will provide notes for an ongoing discussion of 68 poems written by 36 different poets. The practical end point of all this will be the AQA AS level examination for our students here at Southfields: the notes and discussions herein will hopefully help us prepare and appreciate the literature of the First World War. If you’ve got the hard luck not to be an A-level student at Southfields, never mind: you’re welcome to use these resources, or better, enter the conversation!
Each poem’s subject is in some way related to the First World War, a conflict which in its scale and murderous technological reach definitively transformed the world. These poems are personal testaments to the terrible loss of life experienced in a wholly new kind of war; they are historical documents; some are great works of art; and in their own way, they point to a change in humanity of which we are the inheritors.
The notes are mine, and while useful are very far from perfect. Any mistakes of fact, scansion or interpretation, I take sole responsibility for. There will inevitably be errors of fact: should you drift by here and spot one, please point it out to me! Similarly there will be some errors of scansion– again, tell me.
As for errors of interpretation– well, this is where a discussion begins, isn’t it? If you have an opinion about a poem, an appreciative thought, or a different reading to the one you find jotted down here, please feel free to contribute to ‘Move Him Into the Sun’.
G. M. Griffiths
A final note: I have attempted to observe UK copyright law in reproducing the poetry on this site. Should any copyright holders find their property reproduced here, please inform me and I will take down the offending material.
2 thoughts on “Welcome!”
Hello! I teach the A. E. Housman poem “Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries,” and I’m fascinated by the (to me, new) idea that the epithet “mercenaries” is his ironic repurposing of a German insult. I’m wondering where they used this, so I can read more about it! Thanks for any pointers.
Hi Nicole, I’m afraid that that particular piece of research is now lost in the mists of time, but I’ll dig it up if I can. I seem to remember Professor Tim Kendall used to run a website in which the matter might have been mentioned. I’ll keep an eye out for the matter.