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VINE VOICEon 12 February 2003
This is an excellent introduction to the lives and work of twelve poets of WWI, many of whom were killed in action. The book was produced to accompany an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum and is illustrated with many photographs and original manuscripts. The famous are here - Owen and Sassoon- but there are also less well-known names - David Jones and Francis Ledwidge - whose work deserves recognition. I've read some of these poems many times, and I never fail to be moved by "Dulce et decorum est" (Owen), "Anthem for doomed youth" (Owen) and "When you see millions of the mouthless dead" (Sorley). The savagery and sarcasm of "The General" (Sassoon) and the grim humour of "Break of day" (Rosenberg), a meditation on a rat moving between the German and British lines, are also moving. Stallworthy tells the stories of their (mostly) brief lives sparingly, concentrating on the poetry and offering some interesting criticisms and insights. This poetry has influenced our imagery of the Great War so profoundly that it is worthwhile to go back and revisit the lives of the young men who had the ability to make us see the horror of the trenches.
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on 6 December 2003
I rather disagreed with the ethics of the publisher in his decision to place Rupert Brooke first in his haphazard order; the fact that each poet was accompanied by a full-page photograph of himself suggested to me that Brooke's pride of place was due mainly to his status as everybody's favourite pin-up poet. For this admittedly rather superficial reason, I recoiled upon initially opening the book, and was quite prepared to flick disdainfully through the remainder before discarding it as a commercialist re-dredging of the nation's favourite war poets.
Not so. The poems are carefully selected, the short biographies thorough and sensitive. In this book, the dedicated fan will be delighted to find images of the poets' original manuscripts and scribbled corrections. Particularly charming is an early draft of Owen's untouchable classic, 'Anthem For Doomed Youth', complete with Sassoon's pencilled corrections. One can almost see the two of them battling over the paper, Owen submitting reverently to Sassoon's 'lordly dictums about poetry'.
And such is the nature of this book; the poets seem almost to step out of the pages, living reminders of those dreadful days that are 'too terrible to remember, too important to forget'. The famous faces are there - and this quite literally; the discerning female reader cannot help but catch her breath over the Byronically devastating photographs of such aesthetic giants as Brooke and Sassoon, sympathetically shot in a chiaroscuro of shadow and light. But then, there are the others: Rosenburg, Sorley; equally splendid poets who have, for some reason, not flourished in their fame in the same way that Sassoon, Owen and Brooke have done.
The book may begin with Brooke, the idealistic, almost-a-soldier-poet whose patriotic whimsy contrasts so fiercely with Sassoon's harsh realism, but it leads us into a No Man's Land of men who do not deserve to be forgotten, 'the legions that have suffered and are dust.'
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on 11 February 2013
Very moving poetry from those in the trenches. They gave their lives for us and we should remember that . Thank you
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on 9 November 2014
Good selection of photos and some poems. The critical writing is brief and not like Stallworthy's more academic studies of the war poets, but it was produced in conjunction with IWM exhibition on the war poets.
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on 13 May 2015
present gratefully received
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on 4 March 2015
Unable to give an opinion - was gifted elesewhere
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