1918-2008: Ninety Years of Remembrance

Poetry and art

It is difficult to imagine something truly poetic and beautiful generating from war and conflict. But the First World War produced some of the most gifted and progressive authors, poets and artists of a generation, each channelling their individual and collective experiences into their chosen art form.

The work of war poets Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Rupert Brooke, Robert Graves, Isaac Rosenberg and Robert Nichols, among others, catches a truth we can remember and absorb in a consoling and illuminating way.

John McCrae, a surgeon in the Canadian Army, wrote possibly one of the most famous pieces of war poetry, In Flanders Fields, while observing the scenes outside a dressing station near Ypres in 1915. Meanwhile, reflections of the war from home were recorded by poets including Charlotte Mew, whose great work The Cenotaph was published in 1919.

The true human cost of war can also be recalled by looking at some of the art created during, and in the aftermath of, the First World War.

Painters such as Paul Nash and Constance Oliver lived through, and vividly recorded, the experience of the Great War.

Paul Nash studied art at the Slade School before the First World War. As a commissioned officer Nash produced hundreds of detailed sketches of life in the trenches on the Western Front, which he later developed into paintings capturing the dramatic landscapes of the war.

Constance Oliver studied art at the Slade School and after graduating she specialised in portraits and landscapes working in both oil and watercolours.

 Detail of 'Gassed' by John Singer Sargent

One of the most famous images of the First World War is taken from the painting 'Gassed' by John Singer Sargent, which depicts a procession of 11 soldiers suffering the after effects of a mustard gas attack leading each other to a dressing station. © Copyright Imperial War Museum

Follow the links below to find out more about the people behind the great works of poetry and art inspired by the war:

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