‘On Getting Out of Vietnam’, written by American poet Howard Nemerov, is a symbolic poem based on the US’s involvement in Vietnam War (1955-1975). It alludes to the Greek legend of Theseus and the Minotaur.
‘Ultima Ratio Regum’ translates to English as “the last (ultimate) argument of kings,” which is an insinuation of war. In this poem, Spender portrays the effect of war on innocent, insignificant lives.
‘Incident’ was published in the former United States Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey’s 2006 collection “Native Guard”. This poem features one of the African-American speaker’s reactions after watching the cross-burning by Ku Klux Klan members.
‘I now had only to retrace’ by Charlotte Brontë describes a speaker’s harrowing journey through a rapidly darkening landscape.
‘The Casualty’ by Ted Hughes describes an apathetic group of onlooker’s and their inability to assist when they witness a plane crash.
‘The House of Ghosts’ by Margaret Widdemer describes a speaker’s nightmare in which she fears not being remembered by her family members.
‘Mid-Term Break’ by Seamus Heaney describes the emotional turmoil experienced by a speaker who has lost a loved one in a traumatic way.
‘And There Was a Great Calm’ by Thomas Hardy describes the horrors of WWI, the end of the war, and the ‘Great Calm’ which came on November 11th, 1918.
‘The Haunted Palace’ by Edgar Allan Poe describes, through the metaphor of a palace, the physical affects of depression on the human mind.
‘Shadwell Stair’ by Wilfred Owen describes a dockside in London and the emotional turmoil of the ghost that frequents it.
‘Misgivings’ by Herman Melville describes the state of America right before the beginning of the Civil War and the fear that many felt for the future.
‘Mesopotamia’ by Rudyard Kipling describes the aftermath of the siege of Kut-al-Amara and those who do and do not feel the imapct of it.
‘Lines Inscribed Upon a Cup Formed From a Skull’ was written in 1808 and expresses Byron’s disdainful thoughts surrounding death.
In this sharp poem ‘The Battle’, Louis Simpson depicts life on the front line of war with searing honesty and unsentimentally.
‘District and Circle’, written by Seamus Heaney, depicts parts of a journey, or of several journeys, on the London Underground.
Read Wilfred Owen’s poem on war S.I.W. (Self Inflicted Wound) with an analysis, summary, and historical background.
‘Vultures’ is one of the famous poems of the Nigerian poet Chinua Achebe. It is a dark and somber piece that focuses on the Belsen concentration camp and a commandant who works there.