On being asked for a war poem, William Butler Yeats responded with these lines:
I think it better that in times like these A poet's mouth be silent, for in truth We have no gift to set a statesman right; He has had enough of meddling who can please A young girl in the indolence of her youth, Or an old man upon a winter's night.
And André Gide observed during World War II, "The war warps all minds. . . . In short, everything urges me to frank silence."
Despite the admonitions of men like Yeats and Gide, modern writers, especially poets, have written about war and in wartime, as their poet predecessors had written about war since the beginning of written language. Before them, the minstrels and rhymers had a go at war and battles with whatever spoken language they had available.
The results have not been very good.
According to Sir Thomas Herbert Warren, a British poetry professor during World War I, the task is difficult if not impossible: "War, when it is really exhausting, crushes out, or burns up, poetry. It enfeebles the body politic, absorbs the interest, and lowers the vitality of a nation. . . ."
The best war poetry is descriptive, and as such not very different from prose.
There is an inherent difficulty in writing poetry of war, which is that the reality defies imaginative or creative interpretation. War does not lend itself to metaphor, which might make it more understandable or give it meaning.