One of the important things that I hope students will take away from our unit on All Quiet on the Western Front is the eormous POPULARITY of the war — especially in the early years. Here are links from English poet Rupert Brooke, who was a very powerful voice for the British war effort as the conflict began. His collection of sonnets entitled 1914 captures the nationalist energy of the time, and it may give students an idea of how different attitudes at that time were — compared to the way we think about war in the 21st century.
As I read over these poems, I can’t help but be struck by the absolutely bizarre logic that he writes in his verses. In one example, he declares that England is much better off because of the opportunity to go fight and die in France. He celebrates the fact that, in the form of a war — or perhaps of a soldier,
“Honour has come back, as a king, to earth,
And paid his subjects with a royal wage;
And Nobleness walks in our ways again;
And we have come into our heritage.”