When my younger brother and I were very young, our Dad would tell us stories about when he was drafted into the U. S. Army Medical Corps in 1916 and sent to Europe. I was drafted into the U. S. Army Chemical Corps in 1958 and sent to Maryland, Alabama.
My Dad cherished his time in the Army in France, England, and would hum songs he learned from the troops and tell how his visit in Europe enriched his life. In 1916, few country boys hardly ever traveled more than 100 miles from their homes. To be thrusted into WW1 at a young age and sent to Europe to help treat wounded American soldiers must have really been an adventure. My Dad would talk about poems the British poets wrote during wartime and told us how these poems and songs remained with him all his life.
Names of WW1 British poets are Rupert Brooke, Wilford Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves, A. E. Housman. Housman was a scholar of Latin and taught at Oxford University. The poems about life in general makes Housman my favorite poet. Many of Housman poems are haunting and have remained with me for many years. Here is one poem to illustrate my point:
In summertime on Bredon, the bells they sound so clear; Round both the shires they ring them in steeples far and near. A happy noise to hear.
Here of a Sunday morning, my love and I would lie and see the coloured counties, and hear the larks so high above us in the sky.
The bells would ring to call her in valleys miles away, 'Come all to church good people; good people come and pray.' But here my love would stay.
And I would turn and answer among the springing thyme, 'Oh, peal upon our wedding, and we will hear the chimes, and come to church in time.'
But when the snows at Christmas on Bredon top were strown, my love rose up so early and stole out unbeknown and went to church alone.
They tolled the one bell only, groom there was none to see, the mourners followed after, and so to church went she, and would not wait for me.
The bells they sound on Bredon, and still the steeples hum. 'Come all to church, good people. Oh, noisy bells be dumb; I hear you, I will come.
Another selection by Housman on loss love:
Oh,when I was in love with you, Then I was clean and brave, and miles around the wonder grew, how well did I behave. And now the fancy passes by, and nothing will remain, And miles around they'll say that I, Am quite myself again.
Visit Google to learn about the WW1 British War Poets.