“The War Correspondent,” by Irish poet Ciaran Carson, appears in Carson’s collection, Breaking News (2003). It consists of seven poems, all but one of which are set in the Crimea at the time of the Crimean War. This war took place between 1854 and 1856 and pitted a British and French alliance against Russia for influence in the Near East. The Crimea is a region off the Black Sea in present-day Ukraine.
“The War Correspondent” is based on dispatches from the Crimea written by Anglo-Irish war correspondent William Howard Russell for readers of the Times, a London newspaper. In his notes to Breaking News, Carson writes that “The War Correspondent” is “especially indebted to his [Russell’s] writing; in many instances I have taken his words verbatim, or have changed them only slightly to accommodate rhyme and rhythm.” Taken together, the seven poems in “The War Correspondent” convey a sense of the wastefulness and destruction of war, set against the ever-recurring rhythms of nature.