Evolution of WWI Through Poetry By Sydney Saunders and Caroline Friend

About This Page

While we were each creating two separate adobe spark pages, we came to the realization that our pages were similar in structure and ideas. We decided to combine our two pages in order to gain a greater perspective while continuing with the idea of our original art pieces.

This article includes various quotes from different World War I poems. While each poet wrote about World War I, their interpretations of the war differ depending on when the poem was written. Two quotes from each poem are chosen to show the different phases of the War and the unique ideas of each poet. All three of these poems read in order shows the overall decline of hope in all people throughout World War I.

The bottom of this page includes descriptions and pictures of two different art pieces inspired by the quotes from the World War I poems.

Rise of the War

"The Soldier", written by Rupert Brooke in 1914, displays people's emotions when entering the war and incorporates an emphasis on nationalism and the belief of a heaven.

"If I should die, think only this of me; That there's some corner of a foreign feild That is forever England."

"The Soldier" deals with the overwhelming amount of nationalism felt and shown at this time in the war. Rupert Brooke expresses people’s pride of their country while the war was still at its beginning. Specifically, this line deals with a man who is more than happy to die for his country. He believes that he will make wherever he is buried a better place, because there will now be a place of England there. He defines himself as England, and thinks that there is nothing greater.

“And laughter, learnt of friend; and gentleness, In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.”

Continuing with the theme of nationalism, Brooke strongly believes that it is a great honor to die fighting for one’s country. Before World War I began, people instilled hope in the idea of a heaven. In the last stanza of the poem, specifically in these two lines, Brooke uses many intangible feelings by focusing on the more cerebral and inner emotional side of his beliefs about war and life after one’s death.

During The War

"Dulce Et Decorum Est", written by Wilfred Owen, portrays anti-glorification of the war with the intention of ending the myth that the war is something beautiful.

“Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.”

Throughout the last stanza of this poem, Owen talks in the second person as a way to detach himself from the harshness of war that he experienced. This period of naturalism leads him to use frightening imagery and gross details. The translation of this specific phrase is, “sweet and proper it is to die for your country.” According to Owen, this phrase is a lie, and he believes that it is dishonorable to tell children that is beautiful to die for one’s country in war.

“All went lame; all blind; drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.”

Wilfred Owen continues to expose the war and all its terror. The graphic details used to describe the soldiers spreads awareness of the horrendous conditions they were put through, all in an effort to stop the anti-glorification of the war. Owen makes the point that this war should not be glorified because it has only sucked the life out of people.

The Aftermath

Additionally, Wilfred Owen’s poem, "Anthem for Doomed Youth", brings attention to the countless young deaths, and the lost importance of holding funerals for young soldiers who fought in the war.

“What passing-bells for these who die as cattle? -Only the monstrous anger of the guns.”

Wilfred Owen continues to expose the war when it comes to an end by observing the little care that was given to the fallen soldiers. In this stanza at the beginning of the poem, Owen compares the dead youth to cattle. In other words, these men were used as cannon fodder. To make it worse, once dead, these young soldiers were not able to receive proper funerals. Instead of funeral bells, soldiers were left dead in the field with the surrounding sounds of gunshots.

“Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.”

While the first stanza of this poem refers to the battlefield during the war, the second stanza discusses the lost opportunities back home for the soldiers who died during the war. These young men did not get the chance to return home or say their final goodbyes, and their loved ones were not able to gain closure. The immense amount of death in World War I resulted in a lost generation

Art Projects

In addition to interpreting these quotes through writing, we both connected our words to different forms of art. Although World War I is the main theme in both projects and our overall ideas about the poems are the same, the art pieces below differ in material, approach, and execution.

POTTERY PROJECT BY SYDNEY SAUNDERS

This project is meant to represent how the war was a brutal one, filled with blood and death. I molded the clay into a circle to represent how the war was a total war, encompassing everyone, and affecting everything that was involved. Next I used a red colored mocha technique which represents the blood shed. The shape of these drops also represents the war seeping into everyone’s lives. The war, like the drops, started small and condensed in the center but the edges eventually spread out. The war spread out everywhere and touched everyone's lives whether or not they were directly in the war. Lastly, I wrote three of the six quotes from this page on the clay slab once it was glazed and fired to portray the emotions that went along with the war. In my opinion, the three quotes I chose best represent each of the three different phases of the war. The quotes border the piece to show the all encompassing effects of the war. The dotted arrows below the titles of the poem lead your eyes to the corresponding quote. The dots in the arrows represent the mass amount of bullets and deaths. As a whole, this project represents the entirety of the war and how people's views on the war differed throughout its various phases.

BLOCK PROJECT BY CAROLINE FRIEND

The three wooden blocks in this project each represent different phases of World War I. Although each block portrays a different atmosphere or tone, all three of them work together to show the transition of mood throughout the War. On the front of the blocks I used newspaper cut outs and gold leaf adhesive to serve as the background for the quotes. The first block shows a sense of nationalism and excitement, while the second shows the brutality of war, and the third represents the lasting effects of the War on all people. On the other side of the blocks I used watercolor paint to create a gradient of lighter to darker colors. The light yellow in the beginning represents the heavenly and honorable feelings people felt when entering the war, while the dark gray towards the end encompasses the ominous presence of the War even after it ended. The illustration of one soldier’s journey on the back of the blocks represents the many people who lived through or died in World War I.

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