My interest in World War I started when my mother gave me letters her uncle Harry (my great uncle) sent home during his time in France in 1918. I learned a lot about Harry but not much about the war so I searched a variety of online sources, took out books from the library, looked at photographs, watched WWI documentaries on youtube and anything else I could find. An unexpected source came from reading WWI poetry especially the poetry of British poet,Wilfred Owen. My friend and poet, Tamra Higgins, reminded me recently about the WWI poets by sharing with me an online WWI poetry lecture.
When I first read Owen’s poem, The Parable of the Old Man and the Young, I was so impressed I tried a sonnet of my own that I aptly called “The Parable of the Man and His Brother.” Like Owen, I chose an old and very famous Biblical story and adapted it to the time period of WWI with my own take on the war.
Of course, one of the things that makes Owen’s poems genius, and mine only a copy, is that Owen was a pioneer in the use of the sonnet form to describe the horrors of war. A soldier himself and one who died in the final week of the war, his gruesome descriptions, irony, and pathos still resonate 100 years later. The twisting of the Judeo-Christian religious story of Abraham and Isaac served as a bitter reproach to the leaders of the day especially because in the early 1900s most English, German, French and American populations, soldiers, and leaders were very religious Christians.
Although my attempts at the sonnet never really got off the ground, I enjoyed researching the form, reading poems, researching Biblical stories, and then applying the critical word-choice approach to my own writing.