War Poetry: ‘All Dirt and Sucked Sugar Stick’?
Martin Stephen PhD
Dr Martin Stephen edited the classic anthology of World War 1 poetry, Never Such Innocence, and is the author of Poetry and Myths of the Great War. How Poets Changed Our Perception of History. He is the former High Master of St Paul’s School, London, and The Manchester Grammar School, and was also Head of The Perse School, Cambridge. He is the author of 24 books, including five historical crime thrillers.
In this series of classes, students will examine the extraordinary flowering of British poetry created by the First World War and seek to understand why this poetry was so different from any that had gone before and so different from that produced by any other nation. The classes will examine the history of war poetry from classical to Edwardian times, including authors such as Homer, Chaucer, Tennyson, Newbolt, Kipling and Hardy, and explore the cult of ‘Georgian poetry’ that dominated English poetry pre-1914. As well as examining the famous war poets – Brooke, Owen, Sassoon, Rosenberg – the course will examine war poets by well-known poets not usually associated with the war, hitherto unknown poets who nevertheless wrote brilliant work, and the popular poets of the day such as Woodbine Willy and John Oxenham who sold millions in their time but have subsequently been forgotten, and female poets of the war. The course then goes on to examine the poetry of the Second World War and the war in Vietnam.
The course offers a new and thought-provoking view of First World and other War poetry and asks students to approach poetry from a dual perspective of both literature and history.
- Class 1: War poetry in history.
- Class 2: Early Days: a Patriotic Flowering.
- Class 3: The Poetry of Pity.
- Class 4: The Poetry of Protest.
- Class 5: Female Poets of War.
- Class 6: The Poets the Soldiers Read.
- Class 7: Forgotten Heroes: Charles Sorley and Edward Thomas.
- Class 8: Poetry of the Second World War and the War in Vietnam.
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