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Lead book review

Look again – the first world war poets weren't pacifists

A review of Some Desperate Glory: The First World War the Poets Knew, by Max Egremont. This chronological anthology puts the spotlight on the poets' patriotism

10 May 2014

9:00 AM

10 May 2014

9:00 AM

Some Desperate Glory: The First World War the Poets Knew Max Egremont

Picador, pp.336, £20, ISBN: 9781447241997

If the poets of the first world war probably enjoy a higher profile now than they have done at any time in the last 100 years, it has not been a smooth passage. When Wilfred Owen was killed in the last week of the fighting he was still virtually unknown, and even 25 years later in the middle of another war, when the ludicrous Robert Nichols — the man Edmund Gosse had once seen as a new Keats and Shelley combined — brought out his anthology of first world war poetry, there was still room for only four poems by...

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Available from the Spectator Bookshop, £16. Tel: 08430 600033. David Crane is the author of Empires of the Dead: How One Man’s Vision Led to the Creation of WWI’s War Graves.


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