What Soldiers Read in the War Zone; Literature for the Military
Byline: JOHN MULLAN
WE ALL know what war poetry means. Thanks to anthologists and school syllabuses, we think of it as the verse written by soldiers, poetry that is shocked or pitying or protesting. In particular for the British, it is the writing of British soldier-poets of the first world war, most famously Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen.
But what about the poetry that soldiers might read rather than write?
One of the most popular and lasting anthologies of English poetry is Other MenEs Flowers, compiled by Field Marshall Wavell in 1941, in a space between campaigns. It was, as Wavell put it, oa war baby,o conceived as oa relaxation to the mindo between battles.
An old idea of poetry as a suitable preparation for battle is represented by a famous story about the 18th-century war hero General Wolfe, who was said to have read GrayEs oElegyo aloud to his officers the night before he led the attack on Quebec. The citadel was captured from the French, but Wolfe was killed. GrayEs meditative, sonorous poem, with its English setting - the village churchyard - came to seem suitable preparation for a …
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Publication information: Article title: What Soldiers Read in the War Zone; Literature for the Military. Contributors: Not available. Newspaper title: Manila Bulletin. Publication date: April 25, 2003. Page number: Not available. © 2009 Manila Bulletin Publishing Corp. COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group.
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