Twentieth Century Literature

Week 4: Poetry of the First World War

2. Write a letter to Sassoon or Owen telling them that their vision, their ideas are still sorely needed in the world today.

Dear Owen,

I strongly believe that your ideas and visions are still sorely needed in today’s world. All the horrors and stories you write about in your poems are so well written and descriptive that they convey the thoughts and feelings of what you – and those around you – saw and felt. These feelings are quite different to the notion that once existed of how great it was to go and fight in the war.

Through reading your poems, we gain insight into what war truly involves rather than a portrayal of a simplistic image that people often see when thinking of war. Usually, this simplistic image depicts men coming home from war as heroes and returning to their families, rather than showing the horror and brutality they witness and more specifically, the ones who are left behind. I feel that in ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ you do a great job of showing this horror and the ways in which the environment of the war affects the men. “All went lame; all blind; drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots of gas shells dropping softly behind” makes us stop and wonder why war was believed to be something to fight in and why it has been so encouraged when it is in fact such an awful act of inhumanity that traumatises those who fought.

I wonder if without the truthful visions of those who fought and experienced war – specifically those such as yours – whether or not we would still have this notion around how great it is to go and fight for your country as it was before. I believe that having the ability to access poems and stories such as ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’, we are able to build on our previous knowledge and understanding of war and become more educated on the truthful experiences which help to educate people of today’s world.

Sincerely,

Nicole Walsh

 

Featured image source: https://biox.stanford.edu/highlight/stanford-bioengineers-close-brewing-painkillers-without-using-opium-poppies

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Best Creative, Twentieth Century Literature

Week 3: The Early Twentieth Century

3. Describe an experience in your own life where you seem to have touched something much deeper than your ordinary everyday experience.

It must have been sometime around June; years ago.  I had taken a trip to Mudgee with my parents and siblings in order to visit family.

I was laying on a red and black tartan picnic blanket, sparse clumps of half dead grass scattered across the hard ground underneath it. I remember it clearly; it was a chilly night, the bonfire crackling alongside the blanket keeping us warm; the sky was dark, the stars were glowing and the air felt thin and fresh. Listening to the still quiet surrounding me, I looked out across the sky as I reflected on everything around me. I think it was the change of scenery and the fact I could see the stars so clearly when I was away from suburbia and the city lights, or maybe it was that I was growing older and learning to appreciate those around me more and more each day; I’m not quite sure which it was. Looking out at the bright stars stippled across the navy sky, I realised how small and insignificant we each are in contrast to the size of the universe; the galaxies, the solar systems, the stars. When looking at our population, we in one single being amongst millions of other single beings; although, while small and insignificant, we are also irreplaceable.

Each individual star shines brightly, collectively lighting up the night sky just as each individual person brings something new and different to the world; a personality, a thought, an idea, a fact. When one of these stars does not shine – or a person no longer exists –  the sky dims a little regardless of if that star was one in ten, or one in a billion.

It was at this point – on this night – that I realised that in the size of things, we are small and insignificant. However, when looking closer, we each bring something new and different to the world; we each create something, and we can each change the world one small action at a time.

As someone who enjoys meeting new people and is an extremely curious person, this is something I strive to remember; always doing what I can to appreciate the little things people say and do as well as the ways in which they – as individuals – help to shape my life.