- Siegfried Sassoon was one of the most significant of the First World War poets.
- His uncompromising poetry detailed the horror of the trenches, the bravery of the soldiers and their anger at the inhumanity of the brutal, mechanised war.
- As a young officer, Sassoon went through an intense psychological experience as a result of his harrowing experience of trench warfare.
- Sassoon’s use of graphic imagery makes him one of the most moving and provocative of all the war poets.
The Fields of Waterloo
- Thomas Hardy was an English War poet who was born in Dorset 1840 and dies in 1928
- He was encouraged to take a keen interest in nature from an early age and was interested in Napoleonic wars as a historical event and had visited the field where the battle of waterloo had taken place. This poem derives form the play that Hardy had written about the Napoleonic wars.
- The battle of Waterloo marked the final defeat of the French emperor Napoleon and was a particularly violent battle which resulted in many deaths.
An Irish Airman foresees his death
The airman of the poem is Robert Gregory who was from Kiltartan, County Galway.
He was born into the privileged Anglo-Irish aristocracy and lived on the Coole Park estate
In 1916 he left his aristocratic lifestyle behind and joined the Royal Flying Corps and became a fighter pilot in the First World War
In February 1918 his fighter plane was shot down over Italy and he was killed.
Yeats admired Robert Gregory for his versatility as a scholar, an artist and an athlete. He was a very close friend of Robert Gregory’s mother, Lady Augusta Gregory, with whom he set up the Abbey Theatre
- Louis Simpson was an American paratrooper who fought in Europe during the second world war.
- This poem is based upon his first hand experiences of battle
In Westminster Abbey
- The poem is set during the second world war at a time when Britain, was part of an alliance of nations which were fighting against German expansionism in Europe and North Africa
- England, and London in particular, was subject to regular bombing raids by the German air force.
- British society of the time was rigidly divided into social classes – the speaker in the poem is a wealthy upper class woman who lives in 189 Cadogan Square, a very affluent part of West London.
- The ‘Castle’ was the name of a green mound beside his father’s house in Orkney. He had a vivid imagination – to him it was a magical place.
- The Fall of Man (fall from Eden) is something he consistently alludes to in his work, as is the inevitably corrupt nature of man. Ultimately he accepts the propensity to sin as being unavoidable – hence the wizened warder letting them through. Evil and goodness co-exist alongside one another – such is man’s fallen spiritual state.
- Muir left his Paradise – Orkney – to live in industrialized Glasgow, a hugely traumatic experience for him.
- Early critics of his poetry praised his evocation of mood and noted his reliance on traditional poetic methods and structures. Late in his life, commentators recognized his singular achievement and drew attention to the close relation of Muir's autobiography to his poetry.
- Examining the body of his work, reviewers and academic critics of the 1960s and 1970s identified such key subjects and themes as time, the journey, innocence and experience, and the randomness of evil