POETRY AND MUSIC OF THE WARS
Best of Show, In My Opinion
It seems the truest war songs and poems end up being anti-war.
There are many anti war songs. Some make themselves felt, and some miss their mark. Songs like Eve of Destruction, while being good period music, move me not at all - they just sound like some hippie saying "War Sucks" from the safety of his dorm room or VW microbus. Two really got to me however, for they were about the personal suffering of the men who actually fought. Both are by Eric Bogle.
"No Man's Land "(also referred to as "Green Fields of France" and "Flowers of the Forest") is about a tramp musing over the grave of one of the "Great Fallen" of the Great War.
Here's another copy of No Man's Land, with some quick background on the Gallipoli debacle
"The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" is from the point of view of a young man who spent nearly three months perched on the cliffs at Gallipoli, and lives the rest of his days crippled and bitter.
To me, the song is most poignant at the final verse:
So now every April I sit on me porch
And I watch the parade pass before me.
And I see my old comrades, how proudly they march
Reviving old dreams and past glory,
And the old men march slowly, all bone stiff and sore
They're tired old heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask "What are they marching for?"
And I ask myself the same question.
But the band plays Waltzing Matilda,
And the old men still answer the call,
But as year follows year, more old men disappear
Someday, no one will march there at all.
The survivors must live with what they've been through and make some kind of sense of it. They must live on. Adding insult to injury is the fact that every generation tends to count as irrelevant that they haven't experienced. They shrug and say, "that was a long time ago, get over it." They forget what the veterans can't.
The quiet tales of those who go to fight out of sense of duty or honor, and suffer for it, have power to move me far more than the harangues of anti-war activists who don't have to worry about day to day survival.
American Civil War
Poetry and Music of the Civil War
Poetry of the Civil War
World War One (aka The Great War)
There's been a fair body of work published by and about the poets of the War to End All Wars (since I don't understand German, I've primarily read the English poets). Many didn't survive the war, and some only half-survived. Though we should mourn these few creative talents which were snuffed out in the quagmire of Europe, imagine the combined potential of the tens of millions who perished on both sides of the conflict. Here are some links to introduce you to the Lost Poets of the Great War
Oxford Virtual Seminar on WWI poetry
German (in the native, unfortunately) and even Italian Poetry
Some poetry by Joyce Kilmer, who has some beautiful woods named after him.
World War Two
I know there is some poetry penned by soldiers, I just haven't found it on the web as yet.
Internment poetry -- a school project
There's more out there, I just haven't waded through it.
A Collection of (mostly) Vietnam poetry
Women poets of the Vietnam War
Robert "JungleVet" Baird
Sean "Doc" McGowen