Some Desperate Glory: The First World War the Poets Knew
The horrors of The Great War were eloquently captured by several of England’s young poets, who signed up in a flush of patriotism but were soon disillusioned by reality. Many of their poems are still famous today – ‘The Soldier’, by Rupert Brooke, is consistently one of England’s most loved. Some Desperate Glory collects several poems from the eleven of the most well-known poets: Brooke, Thomas, Owen, Sassoon, Rosenberg among others. All those selected actually fought; several of the poets died in action. The genius of the book is that it puts these poems in wonderful context. Each poet is first given a brief biography. Then the poems are grouped according to year of the war, with an introduction to each year continuing each poet’s biography. Not all the poems are masterworks, but the aggregation according to the war’s progression helps the reader sympathize with the emotions and increasing trauma suffered by these young men as their exposure increased. Their poetic voices, literally from the trenches, speak volumes of description in terse stanzas. It is a brilliant organization, and the excellent explication of the war’s impact on these sensitive men adds an important human dimension to World War I.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux