‘Poetry’, Wordsworth reminds us, ‘is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings’, and there can be no area of human experience feelings than war: hope and fear; exhilaration and humiliation; hatred – not only for the enemy, but also for generals, politicians, and war-profiteers; love – for fellow soldiers, for women and children left behind, for country (often) and cause (occasionally).
The First World War was one of the seminal moments of the twentieth century in which literate soldiers, plunged into inhuman conditions, reacted to their surroundings in poems.
Many collections of poems from and about the first world war have been drawn together over the past hundred years. In this section are some of the greats.
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