The Great War (1914-1918) - Episode 3: Total War

·1915, the year the Great War becomes "total war".
·Bombing of civilians – first time there is no such a thing as a 'non-combatant' – WWI as the first 'modern' war.
·April 1915 – Gallipoli – 800.000 soldiers outnumbered the Turks.
·Mustafa Kemal and the strategic position of Turkey.
·Vera Brittain – the nurses of WWI and the presence of women at the Front.
·Involvement of the colonies – African soldiers in the Western Front / Indian troops in the Eastern Front.
·Munition factory workers – the girls with yellow hands.
·Mustard gas – Owen's 'Dulce et Decorum est'.
·Passenger ships as targets – the Lusitania.
·Cinema as propaganda tool against Germany – The Little American and American neutrality.
·The Armenian genocide and the refugee camps.

This episode deepens into all the horrors of war: we see the first systematic bombing of civilians from the sky, the involvement of the colonies into the war, the increasing business of shell making, faith turning into another arm to fight, poison gas being used in the front, civilian passengers becoming potential targets at sea, children being trained as potential/real soldiers, and the shame of the 20th century first genocide. Being all these scandals a consequence of the frenetic brutalization of a european war that has become a total war.

However, the poems in the anthology refer to life of English soldiers in trenches. We see many of them: 'First Time In' by Ivor Gurney (clearly expressed in the title of the poem the going up to the front for the first time), 'Break of Day in the Trenches' by Isaac Rosenberg (a short free-verse poem in which time juxtaposes with setting to create a new poetic perception of life and death capturing the bemusement of an ordinary infantryman confronting the harshness of existence in the trenches during World War I), the theme of inevitability -although in a humorous tone- of the soldiers' song 'Bombed last night', Wilfrid Gibson's 'Breakfast' (a poem showing the ever-presence of death playing with the idea that survival in the war was a game of chance), Richard Aldington's 'In the Trenches' (a poem that mixes life in the front with classical references), Edgell Rickword's 'Winter Warfare' (an extended metaphor concerning the effects of the bitter winter on the men in the trenches), 'Futility' and 'Exposure' by Wilfred Owen (two poems about death in the front), the nonsense mixed with the sense of inevitability of 'We're here because we're here', 'Poem Abbreviated from the Conversation of Mr. T. E. H.' by Ezra Pound (using images to describe states of the mind in the front and the idea of resignation), or the Romantic references in poems by Edmund Blunden or Edgell Rickword.
After that, we still read poems about soldiers in the front, but this time they are related to the bonds of friendship and love that were formed between serving men of all ranks, as we can see in Siegfried Sassoon's 'Banishment', G. A. Studdert Kennedy's 'Woodbine Willie', Wilfred Owen's 'Apologia pro Poemate Meo', Herbert Read's 'My company', 'Nameless Men' by Edward Shillito, or 'Greater Love' by Wilfred Owen.

However, I've missed some poems about the contribution of black soldiers to war, or about the important role played by English women in the business of war.

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