Sunday, October 16, 2011

love poems and sayings

The poem, named after the Last Post (the bugle call used at British ceremonies remembering those killed in war), makes explicit references to Wilfred Owen's poem from the First World War Dulce et Decorum Est. It imagines what would happen if time ran backwards and those killed in the war came back to life; their lives would still be full of possibilities and filled with "love, work, children, talent, English beer, good food." The poem was generally well received, with one commentator saying that it was "simply a damn good poem with rich imagery, cinematic movement and poignant ending." Another said that it was "moving reversal of history" and a "fine poem". Duffy herself was quoted as saying that she wanted to honour the tradition of poets who were soldiers.

Carol Ann Duffy was appointed as Poet Laureate in May 2009, the first woman to be appointed to the post. She was asked by the BBC Radio 4 programme Today to write a poem to mark the deaths of Henry Allingham and Harry Patch. The poem was read by Duffy on Today on 30 July 2009, the day of Allingham's funeral. Allingham, who served with the Royal Naval Air Service before becoming a founder member of the Royal Air Force, died on 18 July 2009 at the age of 113; Patch, the last surviving man to have fought in the trenches in the war, died on 25 July 2009 at the age of 111. Their deaths left Claude Choules, who served in the Royal Navy during the war and now lives in Australia, as the last surviving British veteran.

The title of Owen's poem is part of a line from the Roman poet Horace – Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori ("It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country"). The phrase was inscribed over the chapel door at Sandhurst, the British military academy, in 1913. The phrase is again referenced when Duffy writes "Dulce — No — Decorum — No — Pro patria mori." The writer Will Heaven said that, whilst the poem denies that death in war is "sweet and proper" (dulce et decorum), it does not deny that the soldiers died for their country (pro patria mori).

before adding, "You see the poet tuck away his pocket-book and smile". Erica Wagner, the literary editor of The Times, said that the poet Duffy refers to in the poem could be Owen, but could also be John McCrae, Isaac Rosenberg, or Charles Hamilton Sorley, or one of a number of other poets from the war. Wagner also noted that "Harry Patch and Henry Allingham escaped death, but never the effect of that awful war."

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