Josephine Hart explores the work of great poets at live events at the British Library, with readings from some of Britain’s finest actors.
The unforgettable poetry of the First World War, with actors Robert Hardy, Daniel Stevens, Damian Lewis and Elizabeth McGovern giving voice to the sarcasm, wit, suffering and loss of the poets of the Great War, to devastatingly moving effect.
1914, The Soldier, by Rupert Brooke
To Any Dead Officer, by Siegfried Sassoon
The General, by Siegfried Sassoon
Inspection, by Wilfred Owen
Anthem for Doomed Youth, by Wilfred Owen
Dulce et Decorum Est, by Wilfred Owen
Pill Box, by Edmund Blunden
The Victory Ball, by Alfred Noyes
Extracts from Epitaphs of the War, by Rudyard Kipling
War Never Changes
Young Gentlemen Do Forget
In that cavalry mess I heard queer conversations. Those officers belonged to the old families of England, the old caste of aristocracy, but the foul outrage of the war, the courage against all ideals of civilization had made them think, some of them for the first time about the structure of social life and of the human family.
They hated Germany as the direct cause of war, but they looked deeper than that and saw how the leaders of all great nations in Europe had maintained the philosophy of force, and had built up hatreds and fears, and alliances, over the heads of the peoples whom they inflamed with passion or duped lies.
“The politicians are the guilty ones”, said one Cavalry Officer. "I am all for revolution after the bloody massacre. I would hang all politicians, diplomats, and so-called statesmen with strict impartiality”.
“I’m for the people”, said another, “The poor bloody people who are kept in ignorance and then driven into the shambles, when their rulers desire to grab some new part of the Earth’s surface or to get their armies going because they are bored with peace”.
“What price Christianity?” Asked another, inevitably.
“What have the Churches done to stop war or preach the Gospel of Christ? The Bishop of London, the Archbishop of Canterbury; all those conventional, patriotic, cannon-blessing, banner baptising humbugs. God! They make me tired"!
The Same Words
Strong words to hear in a cavalry mess! Strange turmoil in the souls of men! They were the same words I heard from London Boys in Ypres ("Wipers" 1914-18 World War 1) spoken just as crudely.
But many young gentlemen who spoke those words, have already forgotten them or would deny them.
‘Realities of War’ Philip Gibbs. Vol.1. P.244. (Copied by (3 Lt Navigating) Anthony Williams RNVR who served on HMS Nelson – WWII)
More British Troops in Kosovo (get tough with the ring leaders). See, above.