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ENGL408: Modern Poetry and Poetics

Unit 4: Poetry of World War I and Its Aftermath   While poets experimented with new poetic forms and styles, Europe was consumed by war. In this unit, you will chart the progression of attitudes toward the war as expressed through poetry, beginning with the patriotic verses of the early war years and continuing through some of the bitterer, disillusioned lyrical poems of the late war years. You will study changes in form, tone, and style, all the while noting the degree to which the war’s major poets adhered to traditional (19th-century) conventions and hypothesizing reasons for that allegiance despite the explosion of avant-garde trends. In this unit, you will study poems by Siegfried Sassoon, Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen, Rudyard Kipling, and e.e. cummings.

Unit 4 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take you approximately 18.5 hours.

☐    Subunit 4.1: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.2: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 4.3: 4.5 hours
☐   Reading: 2.5 hours

☐   Lecture: 2 hours

☐   Subunit 4.4: 7.5 hours

☐   Subunit 4.4.1: 2 hours

☐   Subunit 4.4.2: 1.5 hours

☐   Subunit 4.4.3: 0.5 hours

☐   Subunit 4.4.4: 1.25 hours

☐   Subunit 4.4.5: 2.25 hours

☐   Subunit 4.5: 3 hours

Unit4 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you should be able to: - identify the most important English poets who wrote about the Great War; - compare and contrast as well as discuss poems written by English poets before, during, and after World War I; - identify poetic devices which helped romanticize war in early 20th century English poetry, and relate trends in poetry to their historical context; - analyze the ways in which English poets like Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, and others grappled with the brutality of modern warfare and its psychological effects; - characterize and analyze Georgian poetry; and - compare and contrast wartime poetry in England with early modernist poetry (Imagism and Vorticism) in England and the United States.

4.1 Off to War – the Chivalric Ideal   - Reading: Voices Education: Siegfried Sassoon’s “The Dragon and the Undying” Link: Voices Education: Siegfried Sassoon’s “The Dragon and the Undying” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read Sassoon’s poem, “The Dragon and the Undying.” As
you read this poem, consider the following study questions and write
down some notes with your responses to help prepare you for the
upcoming written assignment in this subunit: Does this poem attempt
to provide a realistic depiction of modern war? What words and
phrases point to a romanticized vision of battle? What emotional
effects does this poem produce in the reader? Why might this poem be
considered the chivalric ideal? How do you think English audiences
reacted to this poem during the time of World War I?  

 

Reading this poem and answering the questions above should take
approximately 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyrights and terms of use
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  • Reading: Rupert Brooke’s “The Soldier” Link: Rupert Brooke’s “The Soldier” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read Brooke’s poem, “The Soldier.” As you read this poem, consider the following study questions and writing prompt: Does this poem attempt to provide a realistic depiction of modern war? What words and phrases point to a romanticized vision of battle? What emotional effects does this poem produce in the reader? Why might this poem be considered the chivalric ideal? How do you think English audiences reacted to this poem during the time of World War I? How does Brooke’s poem compare and contrast to Sassoon’s poem? Write a few paragraphs that respond to these questions and that aim to compare Brooke’s and Sassoon’s poems. Consider posting your written response to the ENGL408 Course Discussion Board, and respond to other students’ posts.
     
    Reading this poem, answering the questions above, and completing the writing activity should take approximately 1 hour.

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4.2 Realities of Modern Warfare   - Reading: BBC: Dr. Stephen Badsey’s “The Western Front and the Birth of Total War,” Dr. Joanna Bourke’s “Shell Shock during World War One,” and Dr. Ruth Henig’s “Versailles and Peacemaking” Link: BBC: Dr. Stephen Badsey’s “The Western Front and the Birth of Total War” (HTML), Dr. Joanna Bourke’s “Shell Shock during World War One” (HTML), and Dr. Ruth Henig’s “Versailles and Peacemaking” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read all three articles to learn about the realities
of the Great War. Then, revisit the poems by Sassoon and Brooke in
subunit 4.1.  
    
 As you read these articles and revisit the poems from subunit 4.1,
consider the following study questions: Do these poets achieve the
reality of war? Why, or why not?  

 Reading these articles and answering the questions above should
take approximately 2 hours.  

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4.3 The Great War and Poetry: Reflection, Disillusionment, and Bitter Critique   - Reading: The Poetry Foundation: “Biography of Wilfred Owen,” “Biography of Thomas Hardy,” “Biography of Siegfried Sassoon,” and “Biography of Isaac Rosenberg” Link: The Poetry Foundation: “Biography of Wilfred Owen” (HTML), “Biography of Thomas Hardy” (HTML), “Biography of Siegfried Sassoon” (HTML), and “Biography of Isaac Rosenberg” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read these biographical essays on Wilfred Owen,
Thomas Hardy, Siegfried Sassoon, and Isaac Rosenberg. Together, they
provide a narrative of various experiences of the end of the
Victorian Era and of the Great War.  
    
 After you finish reading, write a paragraph or two to summarize
what you consider to be the most important historical and cultural
characteristics of this time that may have influenced these poets.
Consider posting your paragraph to the [ENGL408 Course Discussion
Board](http://forums.saylor.org/forum/english/ENGL408/), and respond
to other students’ posts.  

 Reading these essays and completing the writing activity should
take approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyrights and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.
  • Lecture: Yale University: Professor Langdon Hammer’s “Lecture 7: World War I Poetry in England” Link: Yale University: Professor Langdon Hammer’s “Lecture 7: World War I Poetry in England” (Adobe Flash, QuickTime, HTML, Mp3)

    Instructions: Watch this lecture on World War I poetry in England. Take notes on Professor Hammer’s analysis of the poems of Wilfred Owen, Thomas Hardy, Edward Thomas, Siegfried Sassoon, and Isaac Rosenberg.
     
    As you watch this lecture, consider the following study questions: How would you characterize the most important differences among these writers? How do the readings in subunit 4.2 help you understand the poems analyzed by Professor Hammer in his lecture?

    Watching the lecture, pausing to take notes, and answering the questions above should take approximately 2 hours.

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4.4 Poets’ Indictment of the War and European Civilization   4.4.1 Siegfried Sassoon   - Reading: Siegfried Sassoon’s “Repression of War Experience” and “The Rear-Guard” Link: : Siegfried Sassoon’s “Repression of War Experience” (HTML) and “The Rear-Guard” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read Sassoon’s poems, “Repression of War Experience” and “The Rear-Guard.” For each poem, consider the following study questions and writing prompt: What do these poems say about the soldier’s experience in war? What do these poems tell us about World War I? Who is the intended audience? How would you characterize the poet’s relationship to that audience? How would you explain the sources of these various poet-audience relationships? Collectively, what do these poems say about European culture? Write one to three paragraphs to summarize your insights and analysis. Consider posting your paragraph to the ENGL408 Course Discussion Board, and respond to other students’ posts.

 Studying these poems, answering the questions above, and completing
the writing activity should take approximately 1 hour and 30
minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyrights and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.
  • Reading: AftermathWWI.com: Siegfried Sassoon’s “On Passing the New Menin Gate” Link: AftermathWWI.com: Siegfried Sassoon’s “On Passing the New Menin Gate” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read Sassoon’s poem, “On Passing the New Menin Gate.” As you read this poem, consider the following study questions and writing prompt: What does this poem say about World War I and war in general? Who is the intended audience? How would you characterize the speaker’s relationship to that audience? What does this poem say about European culture? Write a few paragraphs to summarize your insights and analysis. Consider posting your written response to the ENGL408 Course Discussion Board, and respond to other students’ posts.

    Reading this poem, answering the questions above, and completing the writing activity should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

4.4.2 Wilfred Owens   - Reading: The Poetry Foundation: Wilfred Owens’ “Arms and the Boy,” “Anthem for Doomed Youth,” and “Dulce et Decorum Est” Link: The Poetry Foundation: Wilfred Owens’ “Arms and the Boy” (HTML), “Anthem for Doomed Youth” (HTML), and “Dulce et Decorum Est” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read Owens’ poems: “Arms and the Boy,” “Anthem for
Doomed Youth,” and “Dulce et Decorum Est.”  
    
 For each poem, consider the following study questions and writing
prompt: What is the tone of each poem? What do these poems say about
the involvement of youth in war? Who is the intended audience? How
would you characterize the poet’s relationship to that audience? How
would you explain the sources of these various poet-audience
relationships? Collectively, what do these poems say about European
culture? How do Owens’ poems compare to those of Sassoon? Write two
or three paragraphs to summarize your insights and conclusions.
Consider posting your written response to the [ENGL408 Course
Discussion Board](http://forums.saylor.org/forum/english/ENGL408/),
and respond to other students’ posts.  

 Studying these poems, answering the questions above, and completing
the writing activity should take approximately 1 hour and 30
minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyrights and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.

4.4.3 John McCrae   - Reading: John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields” Link: John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read McCrae’s poem, “In Flanders Fields.” As you
read, consider the following study questions: In what ways do you
see McCrae challenging the concept of war in this text? How does
McCrae’s poem compare to those of Sassoon and Owens?  

 Reading this poem and answering the questions above should take
approximately 30 minutes.  

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displayed on the webpage above.

4.4.4 Rudyard Kipling’s Change of Heart   - Reading: Web-Books.com: Rudyard Kipling’s “Epitaphs of the War” Link: Web-Books.com: Rudyard Kipling’s “Epitaphs of the War” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read Kipling’s poem, “Epitaphs of the War.” As you read, consider the following study questions: How does this poem compare and contrast to Kipling’s poems that you have read earlier (see subunit 1.3.2)? How does Kipling’s approach to patriotism in “Epitaphs of the War” differ from the poems in subunit 1.3.2?

 Reading this poem and answering the question above should take
approximately 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Great War Literature Magazine: W. Lawrance’s “Rudyard Kipling – Author, Poet, and Quintessential Englishman” Link: Great War Literature Magazine: W. Lawrance’s “Rudyard Kipling – Author, Poet, and Quintessential Englishman” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this article to learn about the events that changed Kipling’s view of the war. Then, go back and re-read “Epitaphs of the War.”
     
    As you read this article and review the poem, consider the following study questions: How does this article inform your analysis of “Epitaphs of the War”? How would you describe Kipling’s change of heart, or changing attitude?
     
    Reading this article, re-reading “Epitaphs of the War,” and answering the questions above should take approximately 45 minutes.

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4.4.5 e.e. cummings   - Reading: Poets.org: e.e. cummings’ “i sing of Olaf glad and big” Link: Poets.org: e.e. cummings’ “i sing of Olaf glad and big” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read cummings’ poem, “i sing of Olaf glad and big.” e.e. cummings spent time as a volunteer ambulance driver at the front in World War I, similar to Ernest Hemingway. He returned with a far more negative position than Hemingway and was very active in articulating his position during the lead up to World War II.
 
As you read this poem, consider the following study questions: How is this poem a pacifist poem? What is the speaker’s position on war? How might one read this poem as an anti-war poem? How does this poem compare and contrast to Kipling’s “Epitaphs of the War” in terms of the genre of war poetry?
 
Reading this poem and answering the questions above should take approximately 45 minutes.
 
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  • Reading: The Literature of Poetry: e.e. cummings’ “next to of course god america I” Link: The Literature of Poetry: e.e. cummings’ “next to of course god america I” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read e.e. cummings’ poem, “next to of course god america i.” Also, read the commentary that follows the poem. Finally, listen to the recording of cummings reading this poem.
     
    As you read the poem and listen to the recording, consider the following study questions: How is this poem a pacifist poem? What is the speaker’s position on war? How does the speaker reconcile patriotism and anti-war sentiments in this poem? How does this poem compare and contrast to Kipling’s “Epitaphs of the War” in terms of the genre of war poetry?
     
    Reading this poem, reading the commentary, listening to the recording, and answering the questions above should take approximately 45 minutes.
     
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  • Reading: Harvard Magazine: Adam Kirsch’s “The Rebellion of E.E. Cummings” Link: Harvard Magazine: Adam Kirsch’s “The Rebellion of E.E. Cummings” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this article about the range of cummings’ anti-establishment perspective. Then, go back and re-read the poems by cummings in this subunit.
     
    As you read this article and revisit the poems in this subunit, consider the following study question: How does this article inform your reading of these poems?
     
    Reading this article, re-reading the poems in this subunit, and answering the question above should take approximately 45 minutes.

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4.5 Post-War Georgian Poetry and the Emergence of Modernist Poetry   - Reading: Poetry X: Walter de la Mare’s “The Truants” Link: Poetry X: Walter de la Mare’s “The Truants” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read Walter de la Mare’s poem, written in 1920. As
you read, consider the following study question: What are the most
important differences between this poem and the war-time poems you
studied in this unit?  

 Reading this poem and answering the question above should take
approximately 30 minutes.  

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displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Literature Study Online: Stephen Colbourn’s “The Georgian Poets and the War Poets” Link: Literature Study Online: Stephen Colbourn’s “The Georgian Poets and the War Poets”(HTML)

    Instructions: Read this essay on the Georgian poets and war poets. After reading this essay, re-read Mare’s poem in this subunit.
     
    As you read this essay and revisit the poem, consider the following study question and writing prompt: How does this essay inform your reading of “The Truants”? Write a paragraph that links the experience of World War I and the emergence of a distinctive modernist poetic style. Consider posting your paragraph to the ENGL408 Course Discussion Board, and respond to other students’ posts.

    Reading this essay, answering the question above, and completing the writing activity should take approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes.

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Unit 4 Assessment   - Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 4 Assessment” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 4 Assessment” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Consider the essay prompts for this assessment, and craft an essay founded on your readings from this unit. After writing your essay, use the “Rubric for Effectively Written College-Level Essays” (PDF) to self-evaluate your writing.
 
Tips and Suggestions: If you have an ePortfolio account, then it may be beneficial to upload or link to your essay from the Work Samples section of your profile. In combination with the Study Groups function or the ENGL408 Discussion Forum, using your ePortfolio profile may be a good way to receive peer feedback on your written work. If you do not yet have an ePortfolio account, you can create one here, free of charge.
 
Completing this assessment should take approximately 3 hours.