War Poems


From Homer and Virgil to Byron and Yeats, from Shelley and Whitman to Auden and Stevens, from ancient China's anonymous bards to Poland's Mickiewicz and Israel's Amichai, poets of all times, places, and sensibilities have been moved to write about war. Here are more than one hundred of their most memorable poems, ranging from Horace on the Battle of Actium to Adrienne Rich's Vietnam-era "Newsreel." An extraordinary anthology.
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From Homer and Virgil to Byron and Yeats, from Shelley and Whitman to Auden and Stevens, from ancient China's anonymous bards to Poland's Mickiewicz and Israel's Amichai, poets of all times, places, and sensibilities have been moved to write about war. Here are more than one hundred of their most memorable poems, ranging from Horace on the Battle of Actium to Adrienne Rich's Vietnam-era "Newsreel." An extraordinary anthology.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375407901
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/1999
  • Series: Everyman's Library Pocket Poets Series
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 775,855
  • Product dimensions: 4.38 (w) x 6.51 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Among the poets included in War Poems are W. H. Auden, John Berryman, John Betjeman, May Wedderburn Cannan, e. e. cummings, Robert Graves, Thom Gunn, Shuel Ha-Nagid, Horace, Ch'i Kao, Charlotte Mew, Edwin Muir, Adrienne Rich, Stevie Smith, Wallace Stevens, W. B. Yeats, along with many others.

John Hollander is the author of seventeen previous books of poetry. His first, A Crackling of Thorns, was chosen by W. H. Auden as the 1958 volume in the Yale Series of Younger Poets. He has written eight books of criticism, including the award-winning Rhyme’s Reason: A Guide to English Verse and The Work of Poetry, and edited or coedited twenty-two collections, among them The Oxford Anthology of English Literature, American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century, and (with Anthony Hecht, with whom he shared the Bollingen Prize in Poetry in 1983) Jiggery-Pokery: A Compendium of Double Dactyls.

Mr. Hollander attended Columbia and Indiana Universities and was a Junior Fellow of the Society of Fellows of Harvard University. He has taught at Connecticut College and Yale, and was a professor of English at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY. He is currently Sterling Professor emeritus of English at Yale. In 1990 he received a MacArthur Fellowship .

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Read an Excerpt

"The Man He Killed"
by Thomas Hardy

“Had he and I but met
By some old ancient inn,
We should have sat us down to wet
Right many a nipperkin!

“But ranged as infantry,
And staring face to face,
I shot at him as he at me,
And killed him in his place.

“I shot him dead because —
Because he was my foe,
Just so: my foe of course he was;
That’s clear enough; although

“He thought he’d ‘list, perhaps,
Off-hand like — just as I —
Was out of work — had sold his traps —
No other reason why.

“Yes; quaint and curious war is!
You shoot a fellow down
You’d treat if met where any bar is,
Or help to half-a-crown.”

"War Is Kind"
by Stephen Crane

Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind.
Because your lover threw wild hands toward the sky
And the affrighted steed ran on alone,
Do not weep.
War is kind.

Hoarse, booming drums of the regiment,
Little souls who thirst for fight,
These men were born to drill and die.
The unexplained glory flies above them,
Great is the Battle-God, great, and his Kingdom--
A field where a thousand corpses lie.
Do not weep, babe, for war is kind.
Because your father tumbled in the yellow trenches,
Raged at his breast, gulped and died,
Do not weep.
War is kind.

Swift blazing flag of the regiment,
Eagle with crest of red and gold,
These men were born to drill and die.
Point for them the virtue of slaughter,
Make plain to them the excellence of killing
And a field where a thousand corpses lie.
Mother whose heart hung humble as a button
On the bright splendid shroud of your son,
Do not weep.
War is kind.

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Table of Contents

Foreword 11
The War in Heaven: Raphael Tells of Satan's Artillery 17
David's Lament Over Saul and Jonathan 19
The Destruction of Sennacherib 21
Achilles Over the Trench 23
A Pause in the Fighting 25
Ballad of Hector in Hades 26
Caesar Crosses the Rubicon 29
Go Tell the Spartans 32
AEneas Kills Turnus 33
AEneas Tells of the Trojan Horse 37
Dulce et Decorum est pro Patria Mori 40
After the Battle of Actium 42
The Evils of War 44
First War 46
Alas for Us Soldiers 47
A Riddle 48
Li Po Lament of the Frontier Guard 49
Lament of a Soldier's Wife 50
A Face-off in the Crusades 51
Britomart Kills the Amazon 53
Carol for the Victory at Agincourt 56
King Henry Exhorts His Troops 58
Before the Battle of Agincourt 60
Farewell to Arms 63
The Glories of Our Blood and State 64
To Lucasta, Going to the Wars 66
Gathering Song of Donald the Black 67
The Battle of Flodden Field 69
O Flodden Field 72
The War Song of Dinas Vawr 73
To the Duke of Marlborough 77
After Blenheim 78
The Drum 81
Concord Hymn 82
After the American Rebellion 83
Hohenlinden 85
Incident of the French Camp 87
On War 89
Battle of the Baltic 92
The Year 1812 95
Ye Mariners of England 98
The Grenadiers 100
Defence of Fort McHenry 102
The Dream 104
The Charge of the Light Brigade 105
1887 108
Danny Deever 110
Ode, Inscribed to W. H. Channing 113
The Portent 121
The Arsenal at Springfield 122
The Battle Hymn of the Republic 125
A Vision of the Civil War 127
The Conflict of Convictions 129
The Crime of the Ages 133
Shiloh 135
Charleston 136
The Artilleryman's Vision 138
The Colored Soldiers 140
For the Union Dead 144
The Blue and the Gray 148
War is Kind 151
Channel Firing 155
August 1914 157
Shadow 158
Lament 159
Grodek 160
Trumpets 161
On the Eastern Front 162
Patrol 163
War Grave 164
May, 1915 165
The Dead 166
Rouen 167
Dulce et Decorum est 171
Strange Meeting 173
Break of Day in the Trenches 175
The Rear-guard 176
Field Ambulance in Retreat 178
An Irish Airman Foresees His Death 180
Mademoiselle from Armentieres 181
As the Team's Head Brass 184
The Veteran 186
In Flanders Fields 187
Recalling War 188
To Margot Heinemann 193
Naming of Parts 194
1 September 1939 196
Hitler Spring 197
In Westminster Abbey 200
How to Kill 202
Reconciliation 203
Gallantry 204
The Fury of Aerial Bombardment 206
The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner 207
Losses 208
Carrier 210
Carentan O Carentan 211
First Snow in Alsace 214
Night of Battle 216
I Want to Die in My Own Bed 217
How Much Longer? 218
Newsreel 220
"Come On, Come Back" 222
War 227
Warnings Unheeded 229
Lead! 231
What the Bullet Sang 232
On the Danger of War 233
Soldiers' Song 234
Song for a Fallen Warrior 236
The Man He Killed 237
Two Armies 238
Recruiting Drive 240
Captain in Time of Peace 242
Another Kind of War 243
Acknowledgments 245
Index of Authors 249
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