For war poetry of the First World War (and information about its poets), plus poetry about Iraq, Afghanistan, Falklands, Sierra Leone, Palestine/Israel, the Holocaust and Vietnam go to The War Poetry Website. It’s British editor David Roberts’ website, and includes poetry submitted by readers as well as collections by well-known published authors.
You’ll find not only poetry, but audio and video readings, author biographies, contextual backgrounders, and footnotes explaining obscure phrases. For example, Wilfred Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est is there, and the first footnote reads:
1. DULCE ET DECORUM EST – the first words of a Latin saying (taken from an ode by Horace). The words were widely understood and often quoted at the start of the First World War. They mean “It is sweet and right.” The full saying ends the poem: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori – it is sweet and right to die for your country. In other words, it is a wonderful and great honour to fight and die for your country.
There’s also an introduction to the type of jingoistic pre-World War I poetry to which this poem directly responds. Textbooks (even digital textbooks like ours) are great at providing context, but they can only provide so much detail. This site is a great resource for teaching war through the eyes of poets: small details as well as emotions and sweeping themes.
This Veterans Day marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended “the war to end all wars.” Hopefully none of your students have experienced war firsthand and hopefully none ever will.