War And Its Myths

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War And Its Myths

ESSAY 4: War And Its Myths (30 points)

When asked to contribute a poem to the war effort in 1915, the Irish poet and statesman William Butler Yeats responded with a short and oddly dismissive verse that begins with these lines:

I think it better that in times like these

A poet’s mouth be silent, for in truth

We have no gift to set a statesman right….

The World War One poets were perhaps the first to use art to try to convey the experience of war to people back home. In our time, films like American Sniper or The Hurt Locker fulfill the same function. What exactly can we learn from artistic representations of war, like poems, stories or films?


Fiction: “Redeployment,” Phil Klay | “How To Tell A True War Story,” Tim O’Brien

Poem: “To His Love,” Gurney | “Menin Gate,” “Rearguard,” “The General,” “Glory of Women,” Sassoon | “Anthem for Doomed Youth,” “Dulce Et Decorum Est,” Owen

Non-Fiction: “Home Fires,” George Packer; “Poetry does not help children understand the Great War,” Daily Mail; WWI information sheet (see WebAccess)

Contemporary war movie (optional but recommended): some good ones include Lone Survivor, The Hurt Locker, Jarhead, American Sniper, Saving Private Ryan

Independently located source (review, article, etc.)

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