The Lost Generation : World War I Poetry : Frank Bernard Camp

Cover of American Soldier Ballads by Camp. Soldiers sitting around a campfire.


Frank Bernard Camp, an American poet born in 1882, authored American Soldier Ballads, a collection of poetry heavy with patriotic themes. The book itself is small with an ocher cover, containing eight page gatherings. There are no illustrations, but the cover displays an image of soldiers sitting around a campfire, seemingly telling stories. The book contains minimal damage, other than a fingerprint inkblot on page 21 that might have occurred during the printing process. Published in Los Angeles in 1917 by Geo. Rice & Sons, the book is dedicated to H.A. Greene, a Major General of the United States Army. The author explains his intention for the collection in this dedication: he has written for “the benefit of all of Uncle Sam’s soldiers,” attesting to his respect for Greene who formed the 91st or “Wild West Division” of the US Army. There are forty-nine ballads, ranging from the civilian’s to the soldier’s perspective but with consistently patriotic subject matter conveyed in titles like “The Love of Country,” and “When We Make the Kaiser Run.” The ballad “Not Till Then” contains a headnote speculating on when the Germans will quit fighting. According to Camp, this won’t occur until Americans start fighting “with our hands, not our lips” (40). The ballads gesture to sadness caused by the soldiers’ absence, but the more prevalent focus is on their honorable sacrifice in fighting for America’s freedom. In his foreword, Camp claims his ballads might not be perfect stylistically, but that he is writing in honor of the American soldier: he claims the verses are “not artificial, not socialistic” but rather “conveying a truth” by “touching the real things of the present day.”

Find American Soldier Ballads in the UNT Library Catalog.