In Flanders Fields and Other Poems

The Development of Modernism as Seen through World War I Poetry and "The Prussian Officer" College

Modernism as a literary genre began sometime before the First World War. It was, however, in the fires of this great conflict that the genre was forged and adopted its characteristics of disorientation and disconnection. The development of modernism can be traced in the poetry written during The Great War and the short story of “The Prussian Officer” written sometime afterwards.

England entered World War I on August 4, 1914, with a sense of optimism and pride (Worldwar-1.net). With "altruistic notions of gallantry and fair play," an entire generation of men took to the battlefields of Europe in what they thought would be a war of only a few weeks (Damrosch 1996). John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields” is a traditional poem that reflects this pomp and optimism felt at the onset of the First World War. Despite morbid images of graves and an invocation of the voices of the dead, the speaker encourages the living soldiers who survive him to carry on the torch of the war and to never "break faith" with the soldiers who died in the fight.

Though the poem falls into the "modernist" era, McCrae uses a more traditional poetic form and has little in common with the WWI-era authors who came after him. “In Flanders...

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