Please assess the influence of World War 1 upon English poetry?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Yes, I agree. I remember hearing/reading 'Dulce et Decorum Est' for the first time in class and being shocked to read 'bent double, like beggars under sacks' - it was my first introduction to the first world war. I find Owen's poetry particularly vivid.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Yes, Wilfred Owen's war poetry is a good example. For a good speimen of one of his poems which juxtaposes both sensibilities (green and pleasant land versus shocking death images) in the same poem, 'Anthem For Doomed Youth' is not to be missed.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

For one thing, World War I increased the reality and harsh imagery of poetry.  The poet who comes to mind most readily is Wilfred Owen with his gory details of how men died--read "Dulce est Decorum et" to get a more clear understanding.  Up until this time, war was considered glorious and patriotic--see Rupert Brooke's and Seigfred Sassoon's poetry to get a better understanding of this viewpoint. With the WWI poets, we no longer are "protected" from the ugliness, horror, and lies that were hidden from us prior to this time. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

World War I held a profound impact on English poetry and literature.  The questioning of moral structures and political orders, as well as the re-conceptualization of individual faith in structures that used to possess totality probably end up being the most profound influences on English poetry.  Poets and thinkers used the horrific nature of World War I to bring a sense of doubt and lack of totality to so much of human existence and consciousness, in general.  The faith in nationalism, nation building, imperialism, military strength, and patriotic identity were all brought into severe question through World War I, where death and destruction was wrought on so many levels.  At the same time, there was a genuine belief that the last of the carnage had not been experienced.  In my mind, Yeats' "The Second Coming" is probably the best example of the anguish and ceasless pain that was the legacy of World War I on European poets and English thought.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The First World War had a profound effect on English poetry. Many of the promising young writers and poets who went into the war as one sort of writer came out at the other end as a deeply different sort of writer. Poets such as Siegfried Sassoon, Rupert Brooke and Wilfred Owen had the tradition of the old English Romantic poets as models and examples. Some had led a blissful life of privilege in the soft lush greenery of England's shires where the only stress was leaving to go off to public boarding schools for rich families. So they had been writing about the delights of such a beautiful pastoral existence, giving thanks for it to God and country. They were prepared to fight and die to preserve it - or so they thought. When they found out the grisly and obscene horror of trench fighting, many began to write more protest poetry. Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred is a good example.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team