The Trench Poets (The War Poets)
As the WWI breaks out, a great number of young people die in the trenches.
Most felt their duty to do so, they acted on an impulse, thinking it was an honourable thing to go and fight, even die for one’s country. War was glorified as a noble thing; it was the question of honour.
That was the usual way in which poetry was written. In poetry, war was usually depicted as an honourable, glorious affair. Thousands of young men left their homes with this conviction. However, those very few who survived the war, returned changed, wiser, more cynical, they experienced the horrors of the war first hand
Many turned to writing, became artists, trying to escape from the trauma of war. The name war poetry might be misleading somewhat, because it is actually the anti-war poetry, the poetry presented attack against the whole ideology of nobleness of war.
They are not modernists, in terms of form or language they use. They are modern. It is a kind of modern poetry. Naturalistic and painfully realistic, with shocking images and language, intending to show what the war really like, the war poetry showed the mud, the trenches, death, and sometimes even compassion for soldiers.
The overall massage through such poetry is that the war is brutal, vicious, meaningless, stupid and barbarous; there was nothing honourable, glorious, or decorous about the war. The daily experience of soldiers on the front was of mental disorders, nervous breakdown, caused by constant fear and pressure.
The Trench Poets question the very notion of war, heroism, patriotism, etc., they attacked the values of the pre war society in general.
The war poetry is a negation of Georgian poetry.Georgian poets were considered as modern as one can be. They were very patriotic; their poetry was very artificial, bombastic, their favourite themes were the beauty of the English countryside and their poetry lacked any poetic or philosophical depth. They regularly presented war as a noble affair, as an opportunity for the young Englishmen to ennoble their lives and turn from ordinary citizens to heroes. To them the war was seen as something giving a chance to young people to become ennobled by the experience of the war.
However, the war poets adopted quite opposite views of the war and of the Georgian society. Most prominent among them were Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen and Isaac Rosenberg.
Conclusion on War Poetry
As a conclusion on war poetry, we have to say it differs from the poetry which preceded it, namely the Georgian poetry. So a clear break is made from the Georgian poetry. They communicate strong anti war messages. For war poets the war in unnatural, meaningless, foolish, brutal, enterprise in which there can be no winners, it is not a noble, heroic enterprise.