Document Type

Undergraduate Project

Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2019

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Committee Chair

Kenneth Munsell

Second Committee Member

Matthew Martinson


The military and technological innovations deployed during World War I ushered in a new phase of modern warfare. Newly developed technologies and weapons created an environment which no one had seen before, and as a result, an entire generation of soldiers and their families had to learn to cope with new conditions of shell shock. For many of those affected, poetry offered an outlet to express their thoughts, feelings and experiences. For Great Britain, the work of Rupert Brooke, Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen and Robert Graves have been highly recognized, both at the time and in the present. Newspaper articles and reviews published by prominent companies of the time make it clear that each of these poets, who expressed strong opinions and feelings toward the war, deeply influenced public opinion. At the start of the war, Rupert Brooke’s poetry, and those like him, pushed the public to favor Britain’s involvement in the war because of their favorable and patriotic attitude towards it. Such patriotism sparked images of the way a soldier should behave and look and inserted the idea that the fate of the nation is everything. As the war progressed though, the poets began to express a darker twist on the country’s involvement. This dissenting opinion from poets like Sassoon, Owen and Graves incited irritation and anger from the British public because of their descriptive and shocking contents. Furthermore, their poetry created a new memory of the war which encapsulated its darkest, most painful realities. The influences of Sassoon, Owen, and Graves lasted much longer than did that of poets like Brooke and have shaped the memory of World War I in British history.