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The Poetry of War

  • Gallatin History Museum 317 West Main St Bozeman MT 59715 (map)

Enjoy a curated collection of poetry presented in the main-hall of the Gallatin History Museum with a reception to follow.

“World War One more than any other war is associated with the so-called ‘war poets’. The poems written by men such as Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and Rupert Brooke, amongst others, is as poignant today as it was both during the war and immediately after it.

 World War Two did not produce such a flow of poetry targeted at the lifestyle of those who fought in the war. It is probable that the sheer scale, horror and futility of World War One spurred on already gifted and talented writers who had answered their nation’s call to arms. Some, like Brookes, joined up as he was caught up in a wave of patriotism that swept through Great Britain. The overall belief was that World War One would be over by Christmas 1914 and a vast number of young men did not want to miss ‘the fun’. Their naïve outlook was quickly shattered as they arrived at the frontline and experienced trench warfare. It was the lifestyle they lived that spurred on the war poets. They put onto paper what many others thought. Sassoon wrote about the “Gate” and the men who marched through it to go and fight in the Battle of Ypres or in the battles that surrounded the town.

 There was no standard blueprint for a war poet – even if the common perception is that they were all officers from a privileged background. This was clearly not the case. The War Poets were from a variety of backgrounds. Some such as Brookes had a very comfortable upbringing. Others such as Lance-Corporal Ledwidge came from more humble stock. Some won medals for gallantry. Others did not. The whole variety of backgrounds gives a clear idea that the impact of war in the trenches hit everyone who served there. Forbidden from writing home with any degree of accuracy/truth about the life they led, some put their thoughts into a diary that could be kept in secret. Some of these diaries survive to this day. Others put their thoughts into poems. As many of these poems rely on interpretation as opposed to being clear facts, the poets bypassed any form of military censorship that certainly would have occurred if they had simply written out their thoughts as prose.” SN Trueman

This special event is being held in conjunction with the Gallatin History Museum and MSU Center for Western Lands & People fall 2018 collaboration, “Memories and Legacies of World War I - Commemorating the Armistice".  Additional community support provided by MSU Library, the Bozeman Public Library, MSU Department of History and Philosophy, Bozeman High School, and the Museum of the Rockies.

This event is free and open to the public.