War & Poetry by Patrick Henry Reardon

War & Poetry

We all admit that war is a bad thing, but let us also concede that pitching a battle has the merit, from time to time, of bringing forth good poetry. Is there some communion between the two?

I don’t mean, of course, that the literary possibilities offered by the prospect of combat are normally computed in the casus belli. It is not as though Agamemnon and his friends, conferring on a recent affront from the Trojans, turned at length to a poet sitting over in the corner and asked, “Well, what about it, Homer? If we go lay siege to Troy, do you think you could do a thing or two with it?”

Nor is it reasonable to suppose that one of the commanders at Balaclava, stymied by the superior position of the Russians, suddenl . . .