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The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry Paperback – May 11 2007

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About the Author

George Walter is Lecturer in English at Sussex University. His research interests are 20th-century literature; madness and creativity; constructions of Englishness; the cultural impact of the First World War. He has edited editions of the poet Ivor Gurney's work for Everyman and Fyfield Books. Dr George Walter is Lecturer in English at Sussex University. His research interests are 20th-century literature; madness and creativity; constructions of Englishness; the cultural impact of the First World War. He has edited editions of Ivor Gurney's work for Everyman and Fyfield Books. He lives in Lewes, Sussex.

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On the idle hill of summer, Sleepy with the flow of streams, Far I hear the steady drummer Drumming like a noise in dreams. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
A Book for Browsers Only May 5 2009
By MARSHALL DE BRUHL - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is, as its title says, a book of "First World War Poetry." Thus it includes anyone who simply wrote poetry during that time. So we have Robert Frost, Edith Sitwell, and Nancy Cunard, among others, whom I have never particularly associated with the Great War.

But a more irritating aspect of the book is its lack of a proper index of poets and a table of contents listing the poems by author. Thus one has to rummage around looking for a particular poet, whose name, for an equally mystifying reason, is not given until the end of the poem.

The Introduction by the editor, George Walter, is excellent, as is, for the most part, his choice of poems, with the obvious exceptions. But the layout of the book itself is exasperating, even irritating.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
excellent anthology; excellent introduction June 28 2010
By kwh - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In contrast to the other two reviewers, I find the organization and format of this anthology to be quite sensible: 5 clearly identifiable thematic sections, brief biographies of all the poets in the anthology, with the poems in the anthology clearly listed by name as well as the original source from which the poem was drawn, and a combined index of poems by first line and title. The introduction and the notes are especially useful for college students being introduced to British Trench Poets. I spent quite a bit of time considering anthologies of British Trench Poetry for a college course and decided upon Walter's because of its organization, biographies, index, notes, and sourcing--and also because it included not only the best known pieces by the best known poets --Owen, Sassoon, Brooke, Rosenberg et al--but also lesser known works by poets rarely included in WWI poetry anthologies. Editors are forced to make choices, and I feel Walter made some excellent ones--my students, too, have no trouble using this book. This anthology so obviously does not attempt to include poets/poems from other countries, to criticize it for not doing so would be like criticizing an anthology of German WWI poetry for not having included British WWI poetry.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Interesting "Experiential" Layout = Frustrating Reference Book May 8 2013
By Ari - Published on
Format: Paperback
I bought this book for a class on the literature of the First World War and was excited to finally own a proper collection of WWI poetry. I'd seen older editions in used bookstores and liked them and figured this one ought to be an improvement on what was already a pretty solid, useful collection. To my dismay, I soon realized that while the selection of poems is generally fine, if I wanted a *useful* collection, this wasn't it.

The two main things that drove me up the wall:

1. As other reviewers have mentioned, the book is organized into thematic sections, tracing (roughly chronologically) the emotional experience of soldiers and homefront through the war. If you're reading the book to get an "experience" of WWI poetry, then this is not a bad way to do it. If you're reading it because you want to look at the works of a given war poet, it's ridiculous. Even within the thematic sections, the poems aren't grouped by author, and there is no index. My entire class had about an hour of "homework" in which we had to search through the book and put color-coded sticky tabs on the pages of the poems and poets were were assigned to look at, just so we could find them easily during class---whereas in the older editions of this anthology the poems were simply grouped by poet. (My professor was as dismayed/frustrated as I was.)

2. The editor's note at the beginning of the book explains that he chose to include only the first published edition of any given poem, on the logic that these were the first versions that the poets were ready to share with the world. If you're dealing with poets who published their own work, this is not unreasonable logic---but not all of the poets included here lived long enough to publish their work! Thus, the first printed editions are not necessarily the most complete or polished. I found this particularly annoying in the case of Wilfred Owen, where we get "Dulce et Decorum Est" with the short line "Bitten as the cud" replacing "Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud", not to mention "Strange Meeting" without the line "By his dead smile, I knew we stood in Hell" (which might well be an editor's error, given that the poem is written mostly in pararhyming couplets).

In short, I second the review that calls this "A Book for Browsers Only". If you have any serious interest in WWI war poetry, get the previous edition.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Don't bother with this - very poor formatting March 30 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a complete letdown. The formatting is very broken with the numbers "10" and "20" appearing at random within the text. The lack of a proper index adds insult to injury. This mess of formatting should be free.
Moving poetry of the young in WWI Dec 14 2014
By Zoe Goorman - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is very moving, all the more as you realize so many of these poets died in their 20's. They developed a new kind of poetry out of their personal experiences in the needless, horrendous war.