The Lost Generation : World War I Poetry : Henry Lionel Field

Cover of H.L. Field's Poems and Drawings


The author of this collection, Henry Field, served in World War I and died in service on July 1, 1916. The book includes poems written between 1912 and 1916. The preface at the beginning of the book is written by R.F. This could be Field’s mother, Ruth Field, but is more than likely his brother, Richard Field. In addition to supplying the preface, R.F. acts as an editor, making choices about which poems to include and which to omit. There are 26 poems in total, with subject matter ranging from WWI soldiers and death, to Christmas during the war, to unrequited love. There are also poems addressed to specific people, including J.C.F. (most likely Henry’s sister, Jessie). The book includes illustrations by Henry Field as well, which are reproduced lithographically. At the end of the book, the section “From a Pocket Sketch-Book” includes five lithographic prints of illustrations done by Field, mainly of other soldiers. There are also three other illustrations before this section, entitled “Wind” and “Sun” and one of a shepherd. In the preface, R.F. discusses how drawing and painting were “the mode of expression he [Henry] cared for most.”

Because this book was intended for “people who care for him” and to show people Henry’s “inner life,” a lot of care is taken with its printing and particularly with the reproduction of Field’s drawings. This care is signaled in the book’s physical features. The poems are printed on paper that is unusual for the period: the paper has vertical chain lines and a large watermark, implying that more money may have been spent on the manufacturing of this book because it was a memorial work. Through editorial interventions and care with making the physical artifact, Field’s family and publishers worked to give readers a portrait of what Field was like during his service in WWI. 

Find Poems and Drawings in the UNT Library Catalog.