Tag Archives: war

Brecht Quatrains for Challenging Times

During World War II Bertolt Brecht wrote quatrains that speak powerfully to our own political times.

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Anger in Ancient Greek Works

A new book looks at how the ancient Greeks approached the issue of anger in works such as “Iliad,” “Ajax,” and “Hecuba.

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Great Pro-War Literature Doesn’t Exist

In which I argue that great pro-war literature doesn’t exist, including “The iliad” and “War and Peace.” (Both works are magnificent; I just don’t see them as pro-war.)

Posted in Homer, Tennyson (Alfred Lord), Tolstoy (Leo) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Memorial Day: Anthem for Doomed Youth

With Memorial Day, there is the danger that we will romanticize the deaths of the fallen rather than face up to the full tragedy. This tension can be seen in a number of World War I poems, some of which romanticize the fallen while others dwell on the absurdity of their deaths.

Posted in Binyon (Laurence), Brooke (Rupert), Owen (Wilfred), Seeger (Alan) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Calling Out Trump’s War Enablers

Too many beltway insiders are singing the praises of Donald Trump’s foreign policy bellicosity, with Brian Williams unironically quoting Leonard Cohen’s “I am guided by the beauty of your weapons.” He should quote Dylan’s “Masters of War” instead.

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Even in Bad Times, Life Goes On

Donald Trump is a disaster but, as Thomas Hardy reminds us, life goes on even during disasters. As bad as Trump is, he’s not comparable to World War I, the subject of Hardy’s poem.

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Solace for Vets from Sophocles

A group has been giving dramatic readings of Sophocles plays in order to reach veterans suffering from PTSD. The results have been astonishing.

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Memorial Day: I Am the Grass, I Cover All

Carl Sandburg’s outward stoicism masks a deep grief as he memorializes those killed in battle in “Grass.”

Posted in Sandburg (Carl), Seeger (Pete), Whitman (Walt) | Also tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Soldier, Rest, Thy Warfare O’er

In “Soldier Rest,” Sir Walter Scott captures how inviting death can look to those caught up in battle’s throes.

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Stephen King & the War for America’s Soul

In “The Stand,” Stephen King sees the dark and the light fighting for control of America’s soul. His book had the Vietnam War in mind but it is also applicable to future policy in the Middle East.

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A “Greatest Generation” Vet Reflects

In the reminiscence about his World War II experiences, my father finds it difficult to capture what it was really like

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A Fantasy about U.S. Thirst for War

Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” understands the thirst of those Americans that want to go to war with Iran.

Posted in Gaiman (Neil), King (Stephen) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lear’s Lesson: Dividing Leads to War

The politics in “King Lear” are currently being played out in attempts to sabotage negotiations with Iran.

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Is It Time to Bring Out Twain’s War Prayer?

The GOP and Netanyahu are trying to sabotage Obama’s negotiations with Iran. Could Mark Twain’s “War Prayer” knock some sense into them?

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Poetry Changed during World War I

The horrors of World War I created some great poetry. But not in its early days.

Posted in Brooke (Rupert), Freeman (John), Owen (Wilfred), Seeger (Alan) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

My Father Moved through Dooms of War

My father’s recollections of the D Day beaches influenced his poetry.

Posted in Bates (Scott) | Also tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

He Sleeps Less Cold Than We Who Wake

Wilfred Owen’s “Asleep” looks with sorrow at the death of a comrade.

Posted in Owen (Wilfred) | Also tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Speak Now for Peace

Obama, take note: Vachel Lindsay in 1915 counseled against going to war even after the sinking of the Lusitania.

Posted in Lindsay (Vachel), Tolstoy (Leo) | Also tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lesson of War: Fear + Fear = Hate

Two Scott Bates poems get at the dark days in America following World War II.

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Hagel: “No Glory, Only Suffering in War”

Some of Chuck Hagel’s statements about war are reminiscent of the anti-war poetry of Wilfred Owen.

Posted in Owen (Wilfred) | Also tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sweethearts Now Cleared for Combat

Tim O’Brien’s Vietnam War story about a woman who goes rogue has things to teach us about the recent suspension of the Pentagon ban on women in combat.

Posted in Conrad (Joseph), O'Brien (Tim) | Also tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Respect Soldiers, Keep Them Safe

In a number of his poems, Kipling honors the common soldier by giving us his perspective.

Posted in Kipling (Rudyard) | Also tagged , , | 1 Comment

Sacrifice Ram of Pride, Not Isaac

Rumi honors the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha, which centers on the story of Abraham and Isaac.

Posted in Owen (Wilfred), Rumi | Also tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Author PTSD Led to Billy Pilgrim, Holden

It can be argued that “Slaughterhouse Five” and “Catcher in the Rye” were both shaped by their authors suffering from PTSD.

Posted in Salinger (J. D.), Vonnegut (Kurt) | Also tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Memorializing Our Lost Innocence

Wilfred Owen’s “Strange Meeting” is not only about the soldiers who have died but how their death taints the living.

Posted in Owen (Wilfred) | Also tagged , , | 1 Comment

War’s Human Costs (So Rethink Iran)

Levertov’s “What Were They Like” gives us a poem that may help dampen hysteria about going to war with Iran.

Posted in Levertov (Denise) | Also tagged , , | 6 Comments

A “Greatest Generation” Vet Reflects

World War II vet Scott Bates remembers the war far differently from the images we have of it–not as heroic but as “people surrounded by dying men.”

Posted in Bates (Scott) | Also tagged , , | 5 Comments

Pakistan’s Secret Service as Minderbinder

The crazy logic of Milo Minderbinder in Joseph Heller’s “Catch 22” shows up in Pakistan’s Secret Service using funds donated by the U.S. to hire terrorists to attack the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

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Weep, For You May Touch Them Not

In his poem “Greater Love,” Owen describes two deaths. One is the physical death of soldiers, which is tragic enough. But the other death is also heartbreaking: the death of innocence that occurs when people become intimately acquainted with war.

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Libya: Gargoyle Laughing, Fist Pounding

First Muammar Gaddafi, Guernica-like, bombed his people.  Now the United States and several western countries are bombing Gaddafi. As this Carl Sandburg poem makes clear, the nightmare has no end: Gaddafi jeering and Allied responding go on and on (if not in Libya, then elsewhere) as America enters its third war in ten years. Gargoyle […]

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Brother Fire Unleashed in Libya

As I watch Muammar Qaddafi turn his air force against his own people, I am trying to imagine conditions on the ground. I asked my father for literature describing the experience, he having once undergone a bombing himself. It occurred in 1944, a couple of weeks after the D Day invasion of Normandy, when the […]

Posted in MacNiece (Louis) | Also tagged , , | Comments closed

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