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War poetry

Think of war poetry and the usual suspects are named: Rosenberg, Brooke, Owen and Sassoon. Yet they are all from the First World War. The body of poetry from those who served in this war remains one of the main ways that this particular war is seen as spectacularly tragic. Yes, all wars are tragic, but this one horribly so. I am amazed whenever I am reminded just how on earth my own grandfather survived it. Private Thomas Henry Sanders served from 1914-1920. He got a limp and a medal for his effort - yet not even a promotion. He was dead at 58, his young wife pregnant with their seventh child. His eldest, my (late) mum, was born in 1945, months before the Second World War ended. Yet that war, much more greedily replicated in the media, produced little poetry. Apparently. Yet there is a new book out that argues for a body of WWII poetry. Daniel Swft's Bomber County not only argues for this but also seeks to highlight the bomber pilots. His grandfather had been one - in fact, he was 'lost' whilst returning from a German mission in 1943. His body was later recovered, his plane having been shot down. Swift includes letters from the hand of this grandfather he never met, yet these letters are very matter-of-fact and inexpressive. This fact alone adds much poignant weight to the inclusion of 'overlooked' poetry from this war. I probably won't buy it - maybe because the second war feels less to me - less because it's other representations have been so ubiquitous.

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Thomas Valentine and Joan Theresa
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