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World War One - Poetry

Alan Seeger: He Did Not Fail That Rendezvous (The Art World, 1917)

Although the U.S. President Woodrow Wilson asked Americans to be "neutral in thought and deed" on all matters concerning the war in Europe [before to April, 1917], the sympathies of the American people firmly stood with the French and their allies. Whether they served as soldiers or non-combatants, the American public was proud of those young Americans who expressed their outrage by volunteering to serve among the French or British armies. Numbered in that group was the Poet Alan Seeger (1888 - 1916), who fought with the French Foreign Legion and was killed on the Somme. The following poem was written by Grace D. Vanamee (1867 1946) in response to Seeger's very popular poem I Have a Rendezvous with Death (North American Review, October, 1916).


Three Collections of War Poetry Reviewed (The Independent, 1919)

A review of three volumes of World War One poetry: From the Front edited by Lt. Clarence Edward Andrews (dates?), Songs From The Trenches by Herbert Adams Gibbons (1880-1934) and Robert Graves' (18951985) "Fairies and Fusiliers".


Soldier Poets (from 'Songs of the Fighting Men': 1916)

The attached essay by Galloway Kyle (b.1871) concerns World War I poetry and served as the preface for his 1916 anthology titled Soldier Poets: Songs of the Fighting Men.


The Bad War Poets (Pathfinder Magazine, 1920)

"On came the foe, rushing foe,
As down they fell by hundreds.
'Twas bravery held our men;
They knew they were outnumbered."

"'Hundreds' and 'outnumbered'; Tennyson could hardly have done better than that. But even Tennyson would not have tried to rhyme 'steam and 'submarine', as the author of the following succeded in doing:

"Brave boys, put on steam;
Be ready at the guns, boys;
'Tis a German submarine."

etc., etc.,


W.W. II and the Absent Poets (Pageant Magazine, 1944)

Attached is an interesting article by the noted poet and poetry anthologist, Louis Untermeyer (1885 1977). He praised the soldier poets of the First World War and expressed his bafflement concerning the absolute dirth of competent rhyme-slingers in the Second World War:

"Why then, it has been asked again and again, is the poetry of this war so thin, so emotionally anemic, so unrepresentative of the fierce struggle in which the world is engaged? Why has no poet, not even a single poem, emerged to stir the heart and burn into the mind?"


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Buna Beach Poem from YANK <