Treasuring Poetry 2022 – Robbie Cheadle discusses the War Poets

The poet I was hoping to feature today, Walt Page, has been unwell and was unable to participate. I decided that I would share a beautiful poem of Walt’s today called Sometimes When it Rains. Walt told me I was the inspiration for this poem and I love it.

Sometimes when it rains

Sometimes when it rains
she loves to go walking
snuggled inside
her warm rain jacket

Walking in the rain
is a sanctuary for her
a time when she can
create her poetry

it is her time alone
to be inspired
she loves being with her family
and she loves creating her poetry

those of us who follow her poetry
are blessed with her friendship
we know she is probably out walking
and we look forward to her new poems

~The Tennessee Poet~
©Walt Page 2020 All Rights Reserved

Walt is currently on a sabbatical from writing poetry, but he has years of wonderful poetry available to readers of his blog here: https://waltswritingsonlife.wordpress.com/

For the past 14 months, I have been deeply down a WW1 hole, reading book after book about this devastating and world-changing war.

My interest in books about WW1 is due partly to my general fascination with war and partly as research for my work in progress, The Soldier and the Radium Girl, a novel set in the USA and France from 1917 to October 1939.

My interest in war poetry was sparked by Sally Cronin from Smorgasbord Blog Magazine who shares poems by the war poets during the week leading up to Remembrance Day.

This year, Sally shared poems by two specific war poets which interested me so much, I read up about them and subsequently read one of each of their works.

Siegfried Sassoon

Sassoon photographed in 1915 by George Charles Beresford

This is what Wikipedia says about Siegfried Sassoon:

Siegfried Loraine Sassoon CBE MC (8 September 1886 – 1 September 1967) was an English war poet, writer, and soldier. Decorated for bravery on the Western Front, he became one of the leading poets of the First World War. His poetry both described the horrors of the trenches and satirised the patriotic pretensions of those who, in Sassoon’s view, were responsible for a jingoism-fuelled war. Sassoon became a focal point for dissent within the armed forces when he made a lone protest against the continuation of the war in his “Soldier’s Declaration” of 1917, culminating in his admission to a military psychiatric hospital; this resulted in his forming a friendship with Wilfred Owen, who was greatly influenced by him. Sassoon later won acclaim for his prose work, notably his three-volume fictionalised autobiography, collectively known as the “Sherston trilogy”.”

Siegfried Sassoon features as a main character in Regeneration by Pat Barkers. I had just finished this book when I read Sally’s post about him: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2021/11/11/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-poetry-rewind-in-remembrance-the-war-poets-siegfried-loraine-sassoon-cbe-mc-by-sally-cronin/

You can read my review of Regeneration here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4354087186

I elected to read The War Poems by Siegfried Sassoon available from Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0571202659/

The War Poems

Over the past few years, I have read the odd poem by Siegfried Sassoon and found them to be very moving. These poetic encounters were usually on Poppy Day when the world commemorates both WW1 and WW2. Although I had a high level appreciation of this war and knew about trenches and a little of the horror, I had never studied WW1 or read much about it outside of these Poppy Day poems.

Over the course of the last 14 months, I have been extensively researching WW1 and have read a number of books detailing life for both the soldiers in France and for the civilian populations at home. My research has covered the British, French, South African, and American perspectives of WW1. These books, which included All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemmingway, Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain, and Regeneration by Pat Barker, really opened my eyes about the dreadful conditions in the trenches, the filth, the rats, the dead bodies, and the fear, as well as the heartbreak of losing a generation of young men. As a result of all this reading and my immersement in life during this time of worldwide conflict, my appreciation and understanding of Sassoon’s war poetry grow and I decided to read it all.

Reading this book was an excellent investment of my time and energy. Siegried Sassoon’s words are powerful and hard-hitting, striking right to the core of the war time experiences of these young men – their hopes and dreams dying around them along with their friends and leaders. This is a book that all youngers should read, after being given some context to WW1, so that this time can be remembered and timeous steps taken to prevent a re-occurrence at any future date. Remembering history and the mistakes of mankind, are best weapons against complacency.

The poem that moved me the most in this collection was The death-bed. You can listen to me reading it here: 

Vera Brittain

Brittain shortly after World War I

What Wikipedia says about Vera Brittain:

Vera Mary Brittain (29 December 1893 – 29 March 1970) was an English Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurse, writer, feminist, socialist[1] and pacifist. Her best-selling 1933 memoir Testament of Youth recounted her experiences during the First World War and the beginning of her journey towards pacifism.”

You can read more about Vera Brittain here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vera_Brittain

I recently read Vera’s memoir Testament of Youth and posted by review to Roberta Writes here: https://robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com/2022/01/19/roberta-writes-book-review-testament-of-youth-by-vera-brittain/

In conclusion

Finally, I am sharing one of my poems about a different kind of silent war. One that can still be contained and prevented from destroying our planet through carbon emissions and overuse of plastic if we reign it in. A compromise can be reached between profits and sustainability.

The Corporate Giant

It rears upwards

into the blue sky,

a monstrosity

of reflective glass, and

shiny stainless steel

towering over

the ant-sized people

who scurry about

in its imposing shadow.

***

An emotionless giant

it is bereft of a soul,

It feeds on small businesses

corner cafes, fruit and nut shops

independent butcheries, bakeries,

confectionaries and cake shops.

Even book sellers and

small stationers

are swallowed whole

disappearing into the gaping maw

of the corporate giant.

***

It shreds and ingests

taking the sustenance it seeks

spitting out the bones

independence and individuality

creativity and the unique

mere entrails, unwanted and discarded.

***

It stamps on difference

in its pursuit of profits

imperfections and blemishes

an unacceptable blight

on a perfect track record.

***

What remains will finally

emerge as a mirror

reflecting the sameness

uniformity and consistency

it holds so dear.

***

Providing its market

with the conformity

and rigidness

that has taken over

and turned the world grey.

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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50 Comments on “Treasuring Poetry 2022 – Robbie Cheadle discusses the War Poets”

  1. Reblogged this on Robbie's inspiration and commented:

    I am over at Writing to be Read to day with the first Treasuring Poetry post for 2022. I am discussing two of the war poets, Siegfried Sassoon and Vera Brittain, and what their poems and books mean to me. Thank you for hosting, Kaye Lynne Booth.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. All amazing pieces of poetry Robbie including your own.. thought provoking and poignant. thanks for the mention. hugsx

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks for introducing to this very interesting poets, and their very deep grounded work. Your poem is also very poignant, Robbie! Sallys mentions brought war poetry the first time to my mind. Isnt she a wonderful provocateur? Lol xx Michael

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Michael, I agree that Sally introduces her readers to a wide spectrum of interesting people and topics. I am glad you liked my poem. I wanted to include a poem about modern ‘battles’ but not the pandemic which we are all tired of hearing about.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It is no small wonder that you are drawn to these two featured poets for their works are filled with such depth of emotion. Their poetic voices, longing to reach the souls of the reader. Not unlike your own works, Robbie!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Dan Antion says:

    Thanks for bringing us these wonderful poems, Robbie and for sharing yours and especially for reading the poem you chose. Those was a very nice post, and it has me thinking about a lot of aspects of war. I wish we were done with war forever.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. marianbeaman says:

    I know the delightful song “Singing in the Rain,” and I appreciate the sentiment of walking in the rain snuggled in a raincoat, but I’d rather be snug indoors, my hands clasping a warm teacup.

    About the Siegfried Sassoon. I remember presenting his work when we studied the war poets in English Literature. Thanks, Robbie for the poetry and Kaye for hosting! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  7. joylennick says:

    Hi Robbie. Thank you for the great insightful poetry. I upgraded the life story of one: Frederick Knight, the grandfather of a friend, and it really brought the horror and feel of war almost into my living room…Fred – one of twelve children born in Kent, UK – emigrated to Canada, alone at 17 and became a farmer – a hard life he grew to love. -then WW1 broke out and he joined a Canadian unit and fought in France until he lost his right arm. An amazing man – he wrote his story in his 80s with a head device as his left arm was useless from Parkinson’s disease. WW1 was sheer slaughter. We often pose the question “If politicians had to serve in wars they almost create, would there be any more?” (From the Prairiies to Passchendaele.) What a prolific writer and cook you are, Robbie! All power to you. Hugs xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Joy, thank you for contributing this story about Fred. It is interesting that he immigrated to Canada. One of my mom’s aunt’s immigrated to Canada. She was a lot older than my mom’s mother. She also had a hard life as a farmer’s wife. My mom says she was always extremely pale and tired.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. memadtwo says:

    So much here to think about. I wonder if the sheer number of horrible images from all over the world in the news every day has left us numb to the true cost of war. Reading both novels and poetry is one way to combat this I think. The personal stories hold us in a way a news article never can.

    And you are so correct that we need to rethink our economics. (K)

    Liked by 2 people

    • HI Kerfe, thank you for adding to this conversation, war is a terrible thing. Modern warfare would be very different from either WW1 or WW2, they use drones for targeted attacks. Its actually even more horrifying in some ways, because you don’t see it coming. As for our economics, the more I read up on climate change, the more worried I get. I’ve had to stop because I was getting nightmares.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Gwen M. Plano says:

    Sobering and thought-provoking poems, Robbie. Thank you for sharing and digging deep into our hearts in the process. 💗

    Liked by 2 people

  10. balroop2013 says:

    Walt’s poetry has an emotional touch, which I’ve always admired. Thanks for sharing his poem though he couldn’t participate. Wishing him well.
    War poetry is always poignant and you’ve picked a powerful poem Robbie. I admire your research and the work that you put in your works. I agree with you…”Remembering history and the mistakes of mankind, are best weapons against complacency.” Well-said!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Balroop, thank you for your kind comments. Walt does write lovely romantic poems. I find that reading poems about the war bring its circumstances and horrors into focus in a much stronger way than prose. It inspires emotion in me for my writing.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. As your poem so ably describes, we do seem able to be crushed under the heel of the corporate world’s boot.

    Thank you for reading the Sassoon poem. It was incredibly powerful.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Liz, it feels as if we are all just being pushed aside to suffer the consequences of government and corporate greed and can’t do anything to stop it. I keep reading about the oil companies drilling in places like Alaska and in the ocean and it makes me angry that the remaining places of natural beauty continue to be damaged and destroyed for short term gain. And this is against the background of everyone knowing about climate change and physically experiencing it.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Walt is a great poet. I know he is unwell, hope he’ll get better soon. I can so relate to your poem about the giant cooperation, Robbie! A wonderful share!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Jim Borden says:

    not surprised to see Sally played a role in your interest in war poetry. I liked your poem The Corporate Giant; hopefully they will make up soon and change their ways…

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Carla says:

    I’ve never really thought of war poets as a genre, but it sure fits. These are all thought provoking words, Robbie.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. olganm says:

    I became familiar with the war poets when I moved to the UK, and I was recommended Regeneration, which I read a few years back, and found fascinating and horrifying both (and as I was working as a psychiatrist at the time, the portrayal of the psychiatric treatment at the time interested me greatly as well). It is a difficult topic to read about without getting emotional, even if you don’t have personal ties to the events. Thanks for sharing your reading, the poems as well and good luck with your WIP, Robbie.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Olga, thank you for your comment. Sally introduced me to the war poets, I didn’t know much about WW1 as it wasn’t in our history syllabus at all. From a current events POV, WWII and the cold war are considered more important. I read Regeneration last year and was also fascinated by the psychiatric treatments. I read that Dr Rivers was the founder of modern psychiatry. I’m not sure how true that claim is. Dr Yelland’s treatment was beyond awful. I’m sure his patients cracked as soon as they returned to the front and probably got themselves killed.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I do hope Walt feels better.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Annika Perry says:

    Robbie, this is a superb post and your research and knowledge shine through. It was a long while since I read Regeneration and your excellent book review brought it back to me. Sassoon’s poetry is profound and powerful and interesting to learn that he later delved into writing prose – I must learn more! Wow! Your poem is a stark reminder to us all of the might of corporate greed – we will all rue the day the world turns grey!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Annika, thank you for your lovely comment, I am so pleased you enjoyed this post which was quite diverse. Europe bringing regulatory reporting requirements in respect of climate change and sustainability into effect is a step forward at last. I am always hopeful that people’s collective better nature will prevail.

      Liked by 2 people

  18. dgkaye says:

    Robbie, your last poem was alarmingly poignant. And I remember the two poets from Sally’s Remebrance Day tributes. And like you, I am as fascinated by WWII as you are to WWI. Historical fiction one of my favorite genres. I think the pull for me is being fascinated by the human condition. I shall look forward to reading your upcoming book! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Debby, I am afraid I have taken a rather dim view of the roll of the top 100 companies in creating and maintaining climate change. Sally has introduced us all to some wonderful poets and authors. I am writing about WW1, hence my all encompassing fascinating right now. I am also interested in WWII. When this book is finished, I need to revisit WWII and finish After the Bombs Fell.

      Liked by 2 people


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