ENGLISH 685:002  /  SUSAN TICHY  /  FALL 2005




Featherstone: Part II: Poems by Ivor Gurney, Wilfred Owen, Isaac Rosenberg
Featherstone: Part III: Zangwill: from The Ruined Romantics
  • Optional: Featherstone's Chapter 7: Gender. We'll pick it up later in the semester in relation to other topics, but you may want to read it now.
Penguin: Introduction; Hardy's "Channel Firing," Edward Thomas' "A Private," "The Owl", "This Is No Case of Petty Right or Wrong," "As the Team's Head Brass," "Gone Gone Again;" all poems by Ian Hamilton Sorley, Edmund Blunden, Ivor Gurney, Robert Graves, Sigfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, & Isaac Rosenberg. Please also read the few poems Silkin includes merely because they are famous: those by Rupert Brooke, Julian Grenfell, John McCrae, & Alan Seeger. Brooke is especially important, as he is so often used as a touchstone for certain attitudes toward the war and war poetry.

Passed out in class: poems by Sigfried Sassoon, Robert Frost, A.E. Housman, Hugh MacDiarmid, Philip Larkin, Vernon Scannell, Eleanor Farjeon, S. Gertrude Ford, Helen Hamilton, Florence Ripley Mastin, & Charlotte Mew.

Bookstore photocopies: Allyson Booth: “Corpses,” from Postcards from the Trenches.

Sigfried Sassoon’s "A Soldier's Declaration," written on June 15, 1917:

I am making this statement as an act of willful defiance of military authority, because I believe that the War is being deliberately prolonged by those how have the power to end it. I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe this War, upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation, has now become a war of aggression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow-soldiers entered upon this War should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible for them to be changed without our knowledge, and that, has this been done, the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation.

I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolonging those sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust.

I am not protesting against the military conduct of the War, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.

On behalf of those who are suffering now, I make this protest against the deception which is being practiced on them. Also I believe that it may help to destroy the callous complacence with which the majority of those as home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share, and which they have not sufficient imagination to realise.
Read before the House of Commons, July 30, 1917, & printed in The London Times, July 31, 1917.


Rosenberg's "God" and "Through These Pale Cold Days", two bitter poems in which he speaks explicitly as a Jew. From the University of Toronto's Representative Poetry on Line

Featherstone: Part I: Chapter 5 (on Jewish intellectual tradition), Part III: Zangwill: Jewish Factor in the War and Settlement

A small sampler of WWI verse by women may be found on the Oxford University Virtual Seminar site. They include Madeline Ida Bedford's "Munition Workers,' war nurse Eva Dobell's most famous poem, "Pluck," Marian Allen's lament "The Wind on the Downs," Jessie Pope's now infamous "The Call," and Sybil Bristowe's "Over the Top," an example of a woman trying to imagine combat.

A number of World War I sonnets may be found on Sonnet Central:

An essay for secondary and elementary school teachers re: women's poetry of WWI: