A Treasury of War Poetry: British and American Poems of the World War, 1914-1917

A Treasury of War Poetry: British and American Poems of the World War, 1914-1917

Read FREE!

A Treasury of War Poetry: British and American Poems of the World War, 1914-1917

A Treasury of War Poetry: British and American Poems of the World War, 1914-1917

Read FREE!

Excerpt

Because man is both militant and pacific, he has expressed in literature, as indeed in the other forms of art, his pacific and militant moods. Nor are these moods, of necessity, incompatible. War may become the price of peace, and peace may so decay as inevit- ably to bring about war. Of the dully unresponsive pacificist and the jingo patriot, quick to anger, the latter no doubt is the more dangerous to the cause of true freedom, yet both are "undesirable citizens." He who believes that peace is illusory and spurious, unless it be based upon justice and liberty, will be proud to battle, if battle he must, for the sake of those foun- dations.

For the most part, the poetry of war, undertaken in this spirit, has touched and exalted such special qualities as patriotism, courage, self-sacrifice, enter- prise, and endurance. Where it has tended to glorify war in itself, it is chiefly because war has released those qualities, so to speak, in stirring and spectacular ways; and where it has chosen to round upon war and to upbraid it, it is because war has slain ardent and lov- able youths and has brought misery and despair to women and old people. But the war poet has left the mere arguments to others. For himself, he has seen and felt. Envisaging war from various angles, now romantically, now realistically, now as the celebrating chronicler, now as the contemplative interpreter, but always in a spirit of catholic curiosity, he has sung the . . .

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