Tag Archives: First World War

Poems from the First World War

Owl has recently been interested in learning about the First and Second World Wars, and has done a lot of factual reading about them.  I wanted to introduce him to some war poetry, so I was very pleased to be able to review Macmillan’s new collection of Poems from the First World War.

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Poems from the First World War, selected by Gaby Morgan, Published by Macmillan in association with Imperial War Museums, hardback, £10.99

This is a powerful collection of poems written by people who have experienced the war first hand: soldiers, nurses, mothers, sweethearts and the families and friends left far behind the front lines.

It includes poems written by Wilfred Owen, Rupert Brooke, Vera Brittain, Eleanor Farjeon, Edward Thomas, Laurence Binyon, John McCrae, Siegfried Sassoon and many more.

The book has been published in association with Imperial War Museums, to mark the centenary of the First World War.  The Imperial War Museum was founded in 1917 to collect and display material relating to the First World War, which was still being fought.

Owl has been reading the book independently, but we have also looked at some of the poems together and discussed them.  The language in many of them is quite challenging, of course, but he is at a stage with his reading where he can now approach any text, as long as the content is appropriate, so a whole world of literature is opening up to him.  I’m excited about sharing it with him, and after years of feeling I only had time to read children’s books (as much as I love them!), it will be good to have a reason to read and study a wider variety of texts.

I asked him to pick a poem to copy out, but he was having difficulty choosing so I suggested “Since They Have Died” by May Wedderburn Cannan.  The language is not too difficult, and Owl was able to understand the ideas behind the poem.  If men have died to give us the chance to be content, we need to live in a way that makes others happy, and love our world which has been made safe for us.  The soldiers who now lie sleeping may be smiling to think that they have brought laughter to the world again.


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This is Owl’s copy of the poem, with his illustration.  (I think Tiddler has been “decorating” it with a crayon unfortunately!)

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I’m really looking forward to reading some more of the poems with Owl.  In particular, I’m keen to show him the Wilfred Owen poems I studied for A-level.  I think this is a collection we will keep dipping into, and as he gets older there will be more poems which are accessible to him.  For now, at nine years old, he can already understand a good number of them, and I’m pleased that he is interested.  So far he has talked to Grandpa about the wars, and played with his toy soldiers, as well as reading lots of factual books.  Now reading war poetry has added some depth to his understanding of the subject.

The next book we will be reviewing for Macmillan is an anthology of Christmas Poems, also selected by Gaby Morgan.

We received a copy of this book to review.