Category Archives: Poetry

The New Oxford Book of War Poetry

Jon Stallworthy’s Oxford Book of War Poetry was first published thirty years ago. Vernon Scannell, in a generally appreciative Guardian review, noted that ‘this editor’s selective criteria are rather obscure’, and indeed there is an interesting quirkiness in the selections that Professor Stallworthy makes from three thousand years of poetry, from the Book of Exodus […]

Eliot, Joyce, Gogarty, Jesus

It’s a while since I last read the ‘Nighttown’ episode of Ulysses, but it’s where I opened the book when I took it off  the shelf  this evening, and I kept on reading.  Suddenly I came on something oddly familiar from a different context. It’s at the point in the fantasy when Edward the Seventh […]

Poetry and prose

In his first-rate Ivor Gurney documentary on BBC4 yesterday, Tim Kendall rightly pointed out that Gurney is exceptional among Great War poets because of his specificity (naming fellow-soldiers), his communication of soldiers’ conviviality, and his depiction of the routine of military life. It struck me that these are exactly the qualities I value in war […]

Tim Kendall on Ivor Gurney

Here’s this weekend’s required TV viewing:

Prison Libraries

I by and large keep contemporary politics out of this blog, but I’m utterly fuming at the Justice Secretary’s decision to prevent prisoners being sent books as presents. They must buy them from their meagre wages, he says, or rely on the prison library. I’m sure that prison libraries have improved since 1917, but I […]

Eleanor Farjeon, the Strike and the War

I heard a good talk at Sheffield Hallam yesterday, by Catherine Clay of Nottingham Trent University, on Eleanor Farjeon and the poems she wrote (as ‘Chimaera’) for the feminist weekly Time and Tide in the twenties. One thing I learned was that Farjeon also wrote verse for left-wing papers like the Herald, under the name […]

‘Siegfried’s Journey’

After spending a while with Henry Williamson, I’ve been looking at another Great War writer rewriting his history – Siegfried Sassoon. Siegfried’s Journey is an unsatisfactory book. Written in 1945, after the collapse of his marriage, and written to make money, it is an attempt to make sense of the crucial years 1916-1922, though more […]

Armine Wodehouse again

A while back I wrote about the war poems of Armine Wodehouse, (P. G.’s brother). Now the excellent Madame Eulalie Wodehouse website has found and reprinted some light verse by Armine, a 1919 poem about the Civil Sevice (The War Office?).

Owen remembered, imprecisely

In Eric Partridge’s 1931 miscellany A Martial Medley, which I mentioned the other day, there is a shortish essay by Conal O’Riordan, an Irish novelist previously unknown to me. It is called ‘One More Fortunate’, and is intended as a memoir of Wifred Owen. The essay begins with a long passage about the author’s own […]

Tim Kendall’s ‘Poetry of the First World War’

Another First World war poetry anthology? Surely there are plenty in the bookshops already? A new offering needs to be pretty special to justify its existence. Luckily Tim Kendall’s new Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology is very good, partly because it does not follow the usual pattern. Most such anthologies are constructed […]


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