The Lost Generation : World War I Poetry : Songs & Sonnets for England in War Time

Cover of Songs & Sonnets for England. Lady justice holding sword and scale


This collection of short poems by various authors was produced early in the war, and advertises itself as the first collection of poems formed during the conflict itself. The book’s introduction celebrates poetry as particularly formed to “uplift the hearts of the people” and “steel men’s hearts before battle.” Some of the poetry is explicitly inspirational and sentimental, while other poems treat specific political events. For example, “The Answer” by Ian Colvin (p. 15-17) treats Foreign Secretary Edward Grey’s refusal to bargain with Germany over Belgium’s status as a neutral country. Poems early in the volume tend to explain the origins of the conflict; poems later in the volume, such as “The Call,” target young men who can be encouraged to enlist. The book as a whole, as with many books in this category, might be labeled “inspirational literature”—that is, poetry intended to inspire readers with a spirit of “splendid courage and heroic self-sacrifice.” Perhaps to compensate for this message, the book also advertises that the “entire profits” from its sale will go to the Prince of Wales National Relief Fund, a charity that provided aid to wives, families and dependents of soldiers on active duty or who died in the war.  

Find Songs and Sonnets for England in War Time in the UNT Library Catalog.