Pause to Reflect: 1914

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.

Two British soldiers in a trench from WWI bbc.co.uk

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.

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3 thoughts on “Pause to Reflect: 1914

  1. Jools

    I’ve never been much into poetry, but having first studied the war poets at school, the power of their words has never left me. I have so many favourites, and Dulce Et Decorum Est is one of the best. Lesser known, the imagery very different and not nearly so visceral, The Parable Of The Old Man And The Young by Wilfred Owen always strikes a chord with me too.

    1. Same here, I have never really got poetry mostly because I don’t like anything that is too metaphor heavy but I think war poetry went for something far more immediate and confrontational. You can’t get away from the fact that you don’t have to ponder on its meaning because it is so immediate.

      Never heard of that poem but I will go an check it out, thanks!

  2. There are a quite a few collection of WW1 poetry (that I found out about when researching the title for our latest anthology). While I don’t think of myself as a connoisseur of poetry, you are right that war poetry strikes a different chord.

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