War poets

On Getting Out of Vietnam by Howard Nemerov

‘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.

On Getting Out of Vietnam by Howard Nemerov Visual Representation

Ultima Ratio Regum by Stephen Spender

‘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.

Ultima Ratio Regum by Stephen Spender Visual Representation

Last Post by Carol Ann Duffy

In ‘Last Post’, the poet winds back the clock so we reimagine fallen soldiers being brought back to life instead of dying in battle in the fields during WWI.

Dreamers by Siegfried Sassoon

‘Dreamers’ by Siegfried Sassoon speakers on the inner, dream-like lives of soldiers fighting in the trenches of World War I. 

Winter-Lull by D.H. Lawrence

‘Winter-Lull’ by D.H. Lawrence describes a snow covered battlefield and the silence plaguing a group of soldiers during WWI. 

Shadwell Stair by Wilfred Owen

‘Shadwell Stair’ by Wilfred Owen describes a dockside in London and the emotional turmoil of the ghost that frequents it.  

Misgivings by Herman Melville

‘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. 

Reservist by Boey Kim Cheng

‘Reservist’ describes the repetitive nature of war and the preparations that go into arming reserve soldiers and preparing them for battle.

Vergissmeinnicht by Keith Douglas

‘Vergissmeinnicht’ is about English soldiers returning to the scene of a battle fought three weeks previously and find the dead body of a German soldier.

Attack by Siegfried Sassoon

Attack’ by Siegfried Sassoon is an eye-opening poem about the harsh reality of war and what it feels like to be a soldier.

The Call by Robert Service

In ‘The Call,’ Robert Service reflects on the propaganda used to recruit soldiers into World War I, based on his living in France at the time.

Days by Philip Larkin

‘Days’ by Philip Larkin is a beautiful poem that contemplates life in the poet’s typical fashion. He asks the reader to consider “What are days for?”

Beat! Beat! Drums! by Walt Whitman

The commentary that Whitman provides in ‘Beat! Beat! Drums!’, in regard to the American Civil war, is that it’s all-encompassing and negative.

Wild With All Regrets by Wilfred Owen

‘Wild With All Regrets’ by Wilfred Owen takes place in the last few minutes of a dying soldier as his body shuts down, and he grows immobile.

War Photographer by Carol Ann Duffy

‘War Photographer’ by Carol Ann Duffy is an interesting poem. It depicts the unrest in the world from a photographer’s perspective.

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