‘First March,’ written by one of the lesser known First World War poets, Ivor Bertie Gurney, is about a soldier’s emotional state while returning to his home.
‘A Stopwatch and an Ordnance Map’ by Stephen Spender explores the Spanish Civil War through the lyrical depiction of one man’s death. It is marked by a stopwatch, the olive trees, and the continued conflict around him.
‘Distant Fields/ANZAC Parade’ by Rhian Gallagher is a poem about witnessing one parade commemorating the service of the deceased soldiers.
‘Easter Monday (In Memoriam E.T.)’ is a fascinating exploration of grief and friendship against the backdrop of the First World War.
‘The Stars Go Over the Lonely Ocean’ by Robinson Jeffers is a complex poem that suggests that the speaker’s contemporary world is falling apart and is only going to get worse before it gets better.
‘The Ballad of William Sycamore’ by Stephen Vincent Benet is a nostalgic articulation of a dead person about his eventful mortal days.
‘The Lyric in a Time of War’ by Eloise Klein Healy is a poem about war, writing, and artistic cconnection throughout time. The poem is dedicated to how writing can create a connection between two people over time and space.
‘Who in One Lifetime’ by Muriel Rukeyser is a poem about resistance in the face of war and suffering. The speaker asserts that a woman referred to only as “she” is standing strong despite what she’s seen.
‘Done is a Battell on the Dragon Blak’ by William Dunbar is a medieval Easter poem of Scottish roots. It tells of Christ’s victory over Satan by his crucifixion, death, and resurrection.
‘Patterns’ by Amy Lowell is an unforgettable poem about a woman’s loss during World War I. It describes the “patterns” of a speaker’s life and how, with the knowledge that her fiancé has died in the War, she’s doing to be confined to a far more sorrowful one.
‘Old Timers’ by Carl Sandburg speaks on the nature of war. Sandburg alludes to the ways in which history repeats itself no matter which country or time period one is in.
William DeWitt (W. D.) Snodgrass’s personal piece ‘Mementos, 1’ is about the discovery of an old photograph of the speaker’s divorced wife and the stream of memories that came with it.
‘Here’ by R.S. Thomas is delivered from the perspective of a man who, while looking back on his life, finds himself self regretting acts of violence he committed.
‘Politics’ by William Butler Yeats is the last lyric poem Yeats wrote. It alludes to wars around the world including World War II which was to begin the year after this poem was written.
From Henry V, ‘Once More Unto The Breach,’ without doubt, one of Shakespeare’s most rousing and iconic speeches. It has inspired motivational speeches from everywhere from Independence Day and Star Trek and remains a masterclass in rhetoric language to this day.
‘Everyone Sang’ by Siegfried Sassoon is a moving poem about the joy experienced at the end of World War I. Knowing that the horrors of the war are over, the world sang out with the joy of a newly uncaged bird.
‘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.
Published in Robert Bly’s award-winning collection, The Light Around the Body (1967), ‘The Great Society’ satirizes the set of domestic programs launched by Democratic President Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1964-65 by presenting contrasting imagery from contemporary American society.
‘Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field one Night’ by Walt Whitman is an emotional poem that describes a soldier’s night-time vigil alongside the body of his fallen comrade.
‘Animals Are Passing From Our Lives’ by Philip Levine is a thoughtful piece about the treatment of all living things. It was written in the mid-1960s during protests over the Vietnam War in the United States.
In ‘A Subaltern’ the speaker catches a glimpse of the innocence and hope he thought the war had erased in a conversation with a junior military officer.
‘Air Raid’ by Chinua Achebe is a poem that provides a glimpse into the Nigerian/Biafran Civil War using symbolism and dark humor.
‘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.
Whitman’s ‘An Army Corps on the March’ is a moving depiction of soldiers marching forward tirelessly during the Civil War. No matter how exhausted they were, they had a goal to fulfill and a dream to achieve!
In ‘Glory of Women,’ Siegfried Sassoon attacks the role of women in wartime and makes them complicit in the deaths of the men they claim to “worship”.
‘To a Locomotive in Winter’ by Walt Whitman is a memorable poem written in Whitman’s skilled free verse. It addresses a train and celebrates its sounds, images, and strength.
‘1861’ by Walt Whitman is a moving Civil War poem written from the perspective of a soldier. He details the difficulty of a particular year.
‘The Lost Pilot’ is dedicated to James Tate’s father, who died on a bombing mission in World War II in 1944. He was a co-pilot of a B-17.
Ai’s poem ‘Cuba, 1962’ appears in her poetry collection Vice: New and Selected Poems (1999), winner of the National Book Award for Poetry. This piece is written in the context of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
‘The People of the Other Village’ is a satire of how one group of people hates the other one. It appears in Thomas Lux’s collection of poetry, Split Horizon (1994).