PS I would recommend anyone who is interested in war poetry to keep a watchful eye on Tim Kendall's War Poetry blog. Indispensable.
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
Humility and the Poets
I was in Arras at the weekend and walked out (in defiance of the tourist office who said it could not be done except at the wheel of a car) to Bailleul Road East Cemetery where the poet Isaac Rosenberg is buried. A few weeks before he died he wrote (the reference is to a poem by Walt Whitman which remained his gold standard for war poetry): "I have written a few war poems but when I think of 'Drum Taps' mine are absurd." They are not absurd and ("Break of Day in the Trenches") among the best. Just a stone's throw away is the (far more populous) German cemetery where several Jewish headstones can be seen among the stark rows of iron crosses. A rather concrete poem about 'the futility of war'?