Some better ones from Jessie Pope

Jessie Pope always gets a bad press these days, especially from teachers who use her as an example of how not to write a war poem. Was she always that dreadful?

I’ve just become an Honorary Research Fellow at Sheffield Hallam University, and one of the perks is that I get access to databases through their excellent library service. Today I’ve been ferreting around in the Daily Mail‘s historical archive, looking at the first printing of Sapper stories, and recipes by Evadne Price.

During the first year or so of the War, Jessie Pope, of course, wrote poems regularly for the Mail. Most are just rather simple-minded patriotism, but I rather like this, from December 1914:

Pope houseless

That’s got a good satirical zing to it, and I do like the image of ladies knitting comforters for stockbrokers.

This one, too, about airmen, is definitely above her average; her imagination seems engaged, and takes her beyond cliché, especially in the second stanza:

pope war hawks

2 Comments

  1. Posted May 19, 2015 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on That's Nothing Compared to Passchendaele and commented:
    It helps to enter the heads of those of the era though the ‘poetry’ maybe lacking.

  2. Posted May 29, 2015 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    It was also a different era in terms of how people communicated. Churning out work regularly for the papers, you’d hardly expect consistently excellent quality writing. Some well known, highly regarded writers churned out fairly average material for various publications because it kept the money coming in while they worked on longer works.

    I think it’s great that you’ve put forward a different view of this poet.


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