Poets of the 1939-1945 War

Poets of the 1939-1945 War

Poets of the 1939-1945 War

Poets of the 1939-1945 War

Excerpt

WHERE, are the poets of the Second World War? This question, which recurred during the war like the refrain of a ballade-- Where are the snows of yester-year? --is still asked from time to time, usually in the tone of voice expecting the negative answer. It is, in fact, a question that means two different things, according to the person who asks it. From the journalist it means: Where is the Rupert Brooke of the Second War, the handsome, gifted young man who dies converting some portion of a foreign field to English soil? From the intellectual it means: Where is there a Second War Wilfred Owen? It is, of course, true that the Second War produced no such knighterrant as Rupert Brooke, and no poet of quite the stature of Owen. On the other hand it did produce, in Sidney Keyes, Alun Lewis and Keith Douglas, at least three 'war-poets' who have been worthy successors to Owen, assimilating his poetic experience and carrying it forward into the world situation that he did not live to see; at the same time it added to the reputation of Roy Fuller, Roy Campbell, Henry Reed, Henry Treece, John Pudney, G. S. Fraser, Christopher Hassall, Jocelyn Brooke, Charles Causley and other writers of standing, and called forth a number of good books of war poetry and a quite remarkable number of good individual poems.

Nearly all the good poetry of the Second War sprang from the Siegfried Sassoon--Wilfred Owen line of succession. The two wars of this century, national wars in which the ordinary educated man was involved, were psychologically of a piece. The spirit underlying the best writings about . . .

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