Men of arms must read poetry, and they do. The American military study Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sasson, Rupert Brooke e Rosenberg. War poetry have a tremendous impact in the formation of good soldiers. A young Sargent from Oregon said “we fell what Owen writes, we can build a mental image of death.” This type of poetry describes war as divine liberation, as a sacrifice, as a metal cleanup. The death of the authors in the battlefield reinforces this feelings – Owen and Rosenberg died in 1918 during the IWW. Artistic variants can represent a good tool in the shaping of the soldiers, extolling the patriotism, heroism and glorious death.
I think that war stirs such emotion that prose can not fully describe it. Poetry goes deeper into the soul, and the emotion resonates.
I would wager these words were written because they had to come out. Imagine the burden of carrying this vision inside your heart.
If the governments did not glorify war, who would go? I suppose even Homer inspired young Greek boys to run out and practice with their wooden swords.
I also think that war measures and tests a man, and that some young men in foolish innocence yearn for that. I know of few old men who do.
And finally on the good side, if this imagery helps a man act instead of freeze up in the face of horror beyond belief, then the words may have saved his life, and possibly left him with a memory only poetry can expunge.
“I also think that war measures and tests a man, and that some young men in foolish innocence yearn for that.” – Agreed. That is why the Hastati was in the front of the Roman lines!
the other thing is music and song. Men march to war to drums or bagpipes and sing. Glorious, and terribly sad.
Thank you for sharing this. Who would think that someone could build a poem out of such a horrible death?
Absolutely. I am very moved, often, by war poetry. And there – you’ve put it in context. Thanks!