Today in 1914 saw the beginning of what was supposed to be the war to end all wars, The Great War or as it would be called later – World War I. It would go on to claim the lives of over 37 million people. That’s something like 40% of today’s British population. Britain alone lost up to 890,000 lives. It changed the world forever.
The war inspired some great war poetry and some of the finest poets and their poems of the 20th century are still taught in schools today. They range from Wilfred Owen’s Dulce Et Decorum Est which was distinctly critical of the experience of the war, bringing home a harsh brutality. Then there is Rupert Brooke’s The Soldier which some find distastefully jingoistic but others find moving and reflective. Not as reflective as the ubiquitously celebrated In Flanders Field which is read out at all Remembrance services to this day.
I’m coming back to this subject at some point – I have a few ideas for another “The Power of Words” post looking at war propaganda, poetry and the like.