Battle, a collection of poetry by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson

Description

Wilfrid Wilson Gibson’s poetry collection Battle was first published in 1915. The work centres upon the experiences of World War One.

Rejected by the army four times until being made a Private in 1917, Gibson never actually served on the frontline. As a published poet, however, Gibson was driven to imagine and represent the realities of ordinary British soldiers. His short, blunt, and often darkly humorous poetry captures a sense of honesty and compassion. Adopting the voices of both soldiers and civilians, the poems explore themes of guilt, madness, injury, death, and sense of identity. Several, including ‘Hit’, ‘The Messages’ and ‘The Quiet’, depict moments of realisation in which soldiers discover they have been injured or lie among the dead.

Gibson’s poems are free of brash patriotism. Adopting an ambivalent position, Gibson urges civilian readers to reassess their perspective on the war. In ‘Nightmare’, for instance, a parent questions the authorities who send men to fight.

Why was this collection significant for Wilfred Owen?

In mid-1917, the war poet Wilfred Owen read and studied Battle. At this time Owen was being treated for shell shock at Craiglockhart Hospital, Edinburgh. He had not yet written his greatest poems, including ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ and ‘Exposure’. Combining technical innovation and realism with the subject of war, Battle is considered to have been a key influence on the development of Owen’s poetry.

Gibson was a pioneer of Georgian style. Essentially, Georgian poetry straddled the Victorian and modernist periods. It was romantic and sentimental, while simultaneously teetering on the edge of modernism with its experiments in composition, rhythm, and realism.

Full title:
Battle
Published:
1916, London
Publisher:  
Elkin Mathews
Format:
Book
Creator:
Wilfrid Wilson Gibson
Copyright:
© Trustees of Wilfrid Gibson Literary Estate
Usage terms
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial licence
Held by
British Library
Shelfmark:
X.908/23100.

Full catalogue details

Related articles

‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ and ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’: tracing the influence of John Keats

Article by:
Sandra M. Gilbert
Themes:
Power and conflict, Literature 1900–1950

Sandra M Gilbert explores the literary heritage of two of the most famous First World War poems, Wilfred Owen's 'Anthem for Doomed Youth' and 'Dulce et Decorum est'.

'Dulce Et Decorum Est', a close reading

Article by:
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Power and conflict, Literature 1900–1950

Santanu Das examines the crafting of one of Owen’s most poignant poems, ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’, and shows how Owen’s war poems evoke the extreme sense-experience of the battlefield.

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Article by:
Santanu Das
Theme:
Representation and memory

Dr Santanu Das considers how the examination of war poetry has changed and looks beyond typical British trench lyric to explore the variety of poetic responses.

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