Ever since the beginning of the war in Iraq, Americans and people everywhere, for that matter, have been able to see first hand what war is really like due to the reports of imbedded reporters and the images that those reporters and others have sent all over the world via satellite. We have seen what war is like first hand, like no other time in history. There have been movies made of World War I, II, Vietnam and Korea, but in our current conflicts, we have actually been there, in real time. We have seen the fear, the violence, the suffering. We have seen our dead removed in coffins from airplanes that land at Dover Air Force base.
When this poem was written (World War I), there was no media that could report on the war, so society's view of war was very idealistic. The people believed the cause was just, that their way of life was being threatened, and there was more of a patriotic backing to the war, in spite of a head knowledge that suffering was involved. But people seldom saw the wounded return limbless from combat. The severely wounded as we are seeing today never made it out of the battlefield. I think society's perception of war today then is very much in tune with the horrors expressed in this poem. It is a very modern poem that presents war for the evil that it is. Sherman said, "All war is hell" but we are all experiencing this hell in a way as never before today, so "our brains ache" along with the soldiers that are out there fighting a faceless enemy. Along with our young men and women, we also know "war lasts, rain soaks and clouds sag stormy."