A blog for Senior Project 1 about sonnets and trenches
Pro Patria Mori
Saturday, April 09, 2016
Lord Kitchener Wants You, one of the most famous recruitment campaigns of
the Great War and inspired later imitations with Uncle Sam and Smokey Bear.
Your King & Country Need You
A dead Archduke, tension from colonial issues, Balkan wars, and Belgian
independence has lead to His Majesty requesting you to join the British Army
in fighting against the Germans. By the end of the Great War, almost 1 out of
4 men in the United Kingdom will have joined the British Army. Half volunteers,
Of these men were a number of Britain's poets. In the trenches, they documented
their experiences in their art and were published in newspapers back home as
the war marched on. Their work, a preservation and expression of the
patriotism, death, home, disillusionment, and horrors found during this war.
These poems come about in a changing world. Queen Victoria passed away 13 years
ago, and with her, an era of restraint, classes, and eminence of British
The past decade of King Edward VII's reign has seen shifting politics as
liberal parties gain standing in what had been conservative houses of British
government. There's a growing awareness of the condition's of women and the
working class as suffragists and laborers enter more into the political
discourse. The Empire is still powerful trading empire, but the economies of
the United States and Germany are growing rapidly. British elite are often
choosing travel and leisure over entrepreneurship.
Art is shifting from an interest in the romantic and classic to the natural
forms in Art Nouveau, becoming known as whiplash for dramatic wavelike curves.
Impressionism from France and had integrated into British art, but Modernism
like Cubism from France, Futurism from Italy, and Expressionism from Germany
Photography is starting to be taken as art, but much of what exhibited is
Fashion moved from tight-lacing, thin-waist figure, to a S-bend figure and
pigeon chest, and then to early brassieres and girdles instead of corsets,
straighter silhouettes, sportswear, and tweed suits.
Technology has brought about new forms of rapid and mass transit. Louis Blériot
had crossed the channel by air.
Olympic-class ocean liners have been built, and suffered a tragic disaster.
Herbert Austin had started producing thousands of British automobiles.
Yet, this changing world and new century will be violently upturned shortly.
70 million military personal will fight a war defined by attrition in trenches,
genocide, industrial mobilization, and poison gas. Many of the nations involved
will have dramatic revolutions afterwards. Concepts like "crimes against
humanity" and international organizations focused on peace by collective
security will come about.
A new generation will come of age. Between two American novelists, Gertrude
Stein will tell Ernest Hemingway, "All of you young people who served in the
war. You are a lost generation..." This disoriented and hopelessness of a Lost
Generation is told in the art of those left standing after the war. People
scared by death and warfare, pessimistic of the world.
The people in this war are in a moment of vivid, violent, and aggressive
change for the world. 9 million combatants and 7 million civilians will die
over the next 4 years. Among the 800,000 British military casualties will be
many of Britain's poets. Mostly young men lost to a miserable war. They write
first hand of the drastic and deadly transition into the modern world. Some
wrote of the honor and glory in war, others described the terrifying reality.
In the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey, there are 16 poets memorialized who
severed in the Great War, inscribed with the Wilfred Owen quote "My subject is
War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity." The following posts on
this blog will examine these poets and their poems from the Western Front.
Rupert Brooke - Died April 23, 1915 (Age 27)
Charles Sorley - Died October 13, 1915 (Age 20)
Edward Thomas - Died April 9, 1917 (Age 39)
Isaac Rosenberg - Died April 1, 1918 (Age 27)
Wilfred Owen - Died November 4, 1918 (Age 25)
For King & Country.