Sunday, November 09, 2008

Observance obligation...

Lest we forget...Is War Poetry something we shouldn't cherish as much as we do because it reminds us of all of the horrors of war and in particular the suffering? Yeats thought so:

"If war is necessary, or necessary in our time and place, it is best to forget its suffering as we do the discomfort of fever, remembering our comfort at midnight when our temperature fell, or as we forget the worst moments of more painful disease."

poppyOthers think so too: Dr. Stuart Lee (involved in Oxford Uni's JISC Project on First World War Poetry digital archive) writes that "As early as 1930, Jerrould Douglas criticised the swelling number of literary works (novels, poems, memoirs, etc.) as being miseading as they left the reader with an impression that the War was inherently wrong, and the slaughter on the battlefields was avoidable. More recently, Peter Liddle in his study of the Battle of the Somme (1992), whilst recognising the power and literary merit of the poems themselves, states that they did not portray the 'conformity and continuity' of the average soldier"

The digital archive is 'building on the success' of Oxford University's Wilfred Owen archive. In mid August 1917 Wilfred Owen met both Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves; he was influenced by both and the following October wrote both "Anthem for Doomed Youth" and "Dulce et Decorum Est". Unlike the latter two Owen died in action only a week before the ceasefire now known as Armistice Day. The wearing of the poppy, a weed in Europes's cereal crops, was inspired or at least influenced by Canadian medic John McCrae's In Flander's Fields - although many of the poems speak of the young McCrae was 42 when he joined up. Their poems go some way to remind us of the horror, that we should not forget. The numbers killed in WWI the battles are abosloutely mind-boggling and now we remember all the fallen - not just the First World War - indeed we should not forget and we should be obliged to remember.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.


They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.


This from Laurence Binyon's "For the Fallen"

Lest we forget...
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7 comments:

The Famous Gildersleeve said...

Thanks for your thoughts Span, I've been a bit slow at getting anything on my blog regarding Rememberance Day. Maybe I can for Tuesday's two minute silence...

(I have a new widget on my blog that might interest you)

http://feedjit.com/

The Famous Gildersleeve said...

Ymay like to look at my town's new monument for rememberance Day and say what you think of it...

TFG

Paul said...

Thanks for the mind boggling link Span - I hope other people read iy - by coincidence I was reading that on Saturday night. I hate it when people refer to the French as 'cheese eating surrender monkeys.' They forget the huge sacrifice that country made in WW1 - 73.% of their armed forces were either killed or wounded - only Russia had a higher perecentage.

I posted on the 5Live board the other day about the museum in Paris within Les Invalides. It's a smaller version of our War Museuem but the overwhelming senses are (a) the stupidity of war (b) the enormous loss of life and (c) how grateful the French were to us and latterly the Americans.

Span Ows said...

Gildy...only famous now? Great was faaaarrrrrr better. I'll pop over for a look.

Paul, yep...my uncle is an author with several books re squirmishes in WWI, the smaller battles of which there were thousands on the sidelines of the massive mud and murder fests.

Yes, the French need credit where it's due and the war grave sites are a tribute to their feeling. Re the mind-boggling link if you follow it to the WWI page (as agianst my link to teh casualties) you'll note there were about 7 million soldiers (all sides) missing too not included in killed or wounded figures. Many thousands would have deserted (can you really blame them?) but many hundreds of thousands (millions?) would have been vaporised/literally blown to pieces/still undiscovered under metres of mud/etc

Span Ows said...

Gildy...only famous now? Great was faaaarrrrrr better. I'll pop over for a look.

Paul, yep...my uncle is an author with several books re squirmishes in WWI, the smaller battles of which there were thousands on the sidelines of the massive mud and murder fests.

Yes, the French need credit where it's due and the war grave sites are a tribute to their feeling. Re the mind-boggling link if you follow it to the WWI page (as agianst my link to teh casualties) you'll note there were about 7 million soldiers (all sides) missing too not included in killed or wounded figures. Many thousands would have deserted (can you really blame them?) but many hundreds of thousands (millions?) would have been vaporised/literally blown to pieces/still undiscovered under metres of mud/etc

The Great Gildersleeve said...

Span,

I see you have the widget ;-)

If you can get onto Gavin's Messageboard I'll leave you a private message and mention a couple of things I might not here.

It may not be posted until tomorrow though...

If/when I can afford to go broadband you have some other widgets that look interesting to look at...

The Great Gildersleeve said...

I've PM'ed you Span...