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Poetry and the First World War (1)

Many of us are familiar with the works of Siegfried Sassoon, Rupert Brooke and Wilfrid Owen but how many of us are familiar with the poets of the other nations that participated in this "war to end all wars".

French poet Pierre Jean Jouve (1887-1976) retains an exceptional reputation as one of the twentieth century's premier poets.

The Buried - Pierre Jean Jouve

This man is in his foxhole
Buried alive;
He's barely breathing,
With his bare hands, he digs out the earth.
He listens--- the sound of the canon,
Still distant, swallowed by the earth.
He sweats, his pick ax strikes.
He calls to his buddies to be sure
That they are still alive.
They feel a strange moistness,
Like the earth oozing.
One says: We're being flooded.
--- That's better then, it'll be over faster.
But while digging, the water 
Engulfs the miner's face
His lips are smeared with it:
Blood, it's blood.
[…] The earth collapses, cracking limbs,
The bloody stream runs faster,
Making the ground ever more viscous.
Soon he scratches out another matter
Spongy and wet.
The spongy matter is human matter.

Pierre Jean Jouve - click to find out more