Roberta Writes – contrasting poems about fights in different eras

I love reading about war. Any war is interesting to me and I have read a number of famous war novels over the fast two years including All Quiet on the Western Front, Testament of Youth, A Farewell to Arms, Regeneration, and To The Last Man (WW1), The Red Badge of Courage and Gone with the Wind (American Civil War), A Gentleman in Moscow (Russian Revolution), and For Whom the Bell Tolls (Spanish Revolution). I have over half way through War and Peace but Natasha’s story started irritating me so I put it aside. I will go back to it as I must know what happens when Napoleon attacks Moscow. I am currently reading Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (WW2). I have, of course, read many books about WW2 and I’ve even written one, but that was not in the past two years. I have also read a few books about South African Wars but most of those are non-fiction.

Anyhow, I was reflecting on war recently, possibly because of the war in Ukraine, and thinking that many of our modern battles are not against other nations but rather against more insidious and creeping problems like overpopulation, pollution and global warming both contributed to be consumerism and ultimately greed. I decided it would be interesting to share two poems, one that highlights the horror of battle during WW1 and one that reflects on this creeping change that haunts our modern society.

Here is my recital of The Anxious Dead by John McCrae:

The next poem, is one of my own from my poetry collection, co-authored with Kim Blades, called Open a new door. It’s called The Corporate Giant:

Our modern battles don’t seem so obviously harmful, but given the heat waves, heat domes, cold waves, firestorms, and flooding the world has been experiencing over the past two years, I’m becoming less convinced we are not heading for a situation that is equally devastating.

I have six poems in a new poetry anthology called Poetry Treasures 2: Relationships.

Available here: https://www.amazon.com/Poetry-Treasures-Kaye-Lynne-Booth-ebook/dp/B09XJ76MHV

64 thoughts on “Roberta Writes – contrasting poems about fights in different eras

  1. The Macrae is v moving, Robbie while yours is spot on. And we see in the news of the dreadful floods you guys are experiencing in Kwa-Zulu Natal and see yet more indications of what you’re talking about.

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  2. It’s very worrying all of this and of course the fallout from the war in Ukraine which may or will affect the food chain across the world as they are the 4th biggest exporter of wheat… there is lots of talk about the “Butterfly Effect” it worries me a lot lately…

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  3. Two powerful poems, Robbie. There are definitely different kinds of wars — and some of the corporations you skillfully skewer in your own poem make a lot of money from the “traditional” kind of war. 😦

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    1. Hi Dave, ‘skillfully skewer’, I really like that description, and you are right. People make big money out of war and it brings to mind the circumstances of the three major powers in 1984 that were continuously involved in a ‘low-grade’ war to keep the wheels of the economy turning.

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  4. It’s on my TBR, Robbie!

    Just before I went to sleep last night I saw a news clip about the US declassifying/releasing years’ worth of UFO documents. Maybe tough times will include an alien invasion. I had never actually considered it before because I didn’t take UFO’s seriously.

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    1. HI Priscilla, I have also read about that and am waiting to see what comes of that information release. I don’t believe in aliens quite like War of the Worlds, but I do think with a whole universe out there, there may well be other forms of intelligent life. It seems reasonable.

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  5. Hopefully we can learn from all those past wars and not make the same mistakes again.
    And yet…Ukraine.
    I’m not able to listen to videos on the laptop I’m using at present, but I’m sure the poems you chose are the perfect fit for this post.

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    1. HI Mae, thank you for adding your thoughts about war. I find it a fascinating topic and keep trying to find answers by learning more about various wars. I have my own cynical thoughts about the war in Ukraine. Nothing happens on this planet that isn’t orchestrated by the major powers, I really believe that.

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  6. Hi Robbie. I enjoyed listening to you reading both of those poems and congratulations on the new publication with a selection of your poems in.
    I too have read a number of war books which began in 2014 to coincide with the centenary of WW1. Still so many more to read of course. ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ has been on my list for quite a while and I’m very much looking forward to reading it, but I keep looking at my shelves with all the unread books and feel I should try and make some inroads there…

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    1. HI Sarah, I am so pleased you enjoyed the poems and I am grateful to you for your WW1 book recommendations. I have a few more of your recommendations on my TBR including the other two in the Regeneration series. I loved A Gentleman in Moscow and so did my mother. I bought her the audio book and she has listened to the story a few times.

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  7. You remind me of Maslow and his hierarchy of needs. Early wars were for the layers at the bottom–food, shelter, safety. Now, many have those (and by ‘many’, I mean ‘some’–those who might fight a war; definitely not the Ukrainians but yes the Russians) and now focus on those upper layers–more ethereal reasons. Not sure, though. I have to put more thought to it.

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  8. You read two compelling poems, Robbie. I agree with you on global warming and climate change, which is why your poems in Behind Closed Doors really resonated. I fear what the future holds for our planet. Even if we all did our small part, would it make a dent? I don’t know, but if everyone isn’t on the same page, well, that’s the part of the problem.

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    1. HI Lauren, the biggest problem is that people live such short lives so many of our race don’t care about the future because they won’t be here to experience the disaster. Climate change is happening much quicker than climatologists predicted and it is scary. I am very happy that my poems resonated with you. I purchased another of your poetry books when I visited you to read your review of Vanished.

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      1. You make a good point, Robbie. On the other hand, my father-in-law who is 3 weeks shy of turning 99, doesn’t believe in climate change. So, it’s very hard when the subject comes up to not argue with him. 🙂 I loved your book and Open a New Door will be next. Thanks so much for buying another one of my books. I hope you enjoy!

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      2. I peeked at your book last night. I was comparing your poetic style to another book I was reading. I love your style. I like poetry that where I can appreciate the meaning and words without having to use a dictionary and re-read the content six times.

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  9. I enjoyed your reading of the two poems, Robbie. I remember yours well. Different times, different threats… and what will come next? There are some interesting observations in the thread. As Geoff says, we need not look far to see the effects of extreme weather. A break in a large ice shelf off Antartica and the resulting tsunami could likely take our town out (best not to dwell on that).

    On a happier note, congratulations on the new anthology!

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    1. Thank you, Chris, for your comment about the new anthology. Global warming is frightening, and the more you delve, the more scary it becomes. I put my novel about climate change aside because it was giving me nightmares.

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  10. Loved listening to your readings, Robbie. War is such a hard subject to read about, but I still do to understand. I read War and Peace years ago, it wasn’t an easy read but glad I read it.

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    1. Hi Denise, thank you for visiting and commenting. I am glad you enjoyed the readings. I find war fascinating and am always trying to understand how it comes about. War and Peace is fantastic from a war perspective, but the peace bits are a bit tiresome for me.

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    1. HI Jan, yes, there are many books about wars. I am fascinated by the psychology of war and am always trying to work out how it comes about, how men are able to overcome a lifetime of religious, ethical, and moral training not to kill, and why nothing ever changes. Thank you for your kind compliment.

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  11. You are one of many many people trying to point out that the oil and gas giant conglomerates who have the power of nations — maybe even more than a single nation since they have tentacles everywhere — won’t go down without a fight — and THAT is what this war is about. Oil, gas, and an absolute unwillingness to change anything even if they bring the entire earth down with them.

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    1. Hi Marilyn, you are right, I have added my voice to others who sing from the same song sheet. The more we share about this topic and the more others appreciate the scale of the problem we face, the more chance that change will come about. That is what I hope, in any event. Thank you for visiting and commenting.

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    1. HI Bette, you are right, there are no winners in war. There will be no winners in our current ‘war’ on climate change either. Those with a quest for power and wealth just don’t see that and don’t care because they expect to die before the consequences hit humanity.

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    1. That got away – find it on the internet. And while Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” is not a Sunday School picnic it’s right in there with all the Vietnam vets I knew. Sometimes the histories of war, as mentioned by someone I knew, are all historical fiction. It’s the stories of the people who fought them, and those who survived that matter.

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      1. HI Phil, I have recently started reading up on the Vietnam war so thank you for another book to add to my list. I agree that many books about war are written by survivors or compiled from diaries and journals of those who died.

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  12. Your corporate giant poem really hit home with me. The same “business model” has already taken over nontraditional higher education, replacing the “higher” and “education” with numbers and profit.

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  13. Great point about how modern wars are not just one country against another but are often intertwined with societal problems.

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    1. There will always be survivors and innovators in any situation. One of the biggest problems we face is the unchecked population growth. More and more people born into the poverty cycle and who become angry and disgruntled. They also can’t conserve because their circumstances are to desperate. It is a great tragedy.

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  14. It was good to be reminded that John McCrae (a Canadian) wrote other poems besides “In Flanders Fields.” And corporations and their need for profit are at the root of much destruction.
    Congratulations on the new book!

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    1. Thank you, Audrey. Yes, I wanted to showcase a poem that wasn’t his most famous one. This little book is a lovely, albeit heart rending, read. If the profits at least went to the benefit of more people, it wouldn’t be as bad, but they just make the ultra rich richer, generally.

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  15. I’ve watched a lot of movies about war, those set during WWII are particularly my favorites, but I haven’t read many books about war.

    Loved hearing you recite the poems. (I love your voice.) Picked up my copy of Poetry Treasures 2.

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  16. Fabulous readings, Roberta!
    Both poems are powerful.
    I agree with your commentary here.
    I’ve been blaming large corps, greed, over population, etc for years.
    However, the war in Ukraine is more obviously evil than all those put together. 1 man holds the world hostage.
    Thank you for this post! Be well – Resa

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