Soldiers in American Litertature

book on the american soldiers image

"Such chivalric imagery of warfare, bound up in older, even medieval, battle practices, could scarcely withstand the screaming shells and machine-gun fire of WW1. some observers of the conflict - maintaining an age-old view of war stitched across the more glorious one - depicted the shattering impact of combat on soldiers. a rich trove of poetry from the Great War, for instance, showed the helplessness and suffering of individual troops and veterans. particularly moving were the words of Wilfred Owen, an Eglish soldier who suffered from shell shock in the trenches and eventually was killed in the last week of the war. Owen captured the new dreadfullness of mechanized warfare in his apocolyptic poem "Anthem for Doomed Youth" :
'What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons'


Complete Poem "Anthem for Doomed Youth" by Wilfred Owen
'What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons
No mockeries now for the
m; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, --
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.'
September-October 1917
//Wilfred Owen// (1893-1918)'