Letter: Lessons of war

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Roy Hattersley's piece about the poets of the First World War smacks too much of trendy revisionism ("There was no poetry for Uncle Herbert", 11 November).

Consider the tale of Hattersley's Uncle Herbert: a decent man, taken from civilised surroundings, trained to be a killer, then sent to a hell on earth. This happened to millions of others throughout Europe. Such a tragedy merits its own canon of verse.

Why attack the writing of these poems? They represent an attempt (in an age when there was no "counselling") to derive some meaning from the wasteful obscenity of the war. It was an attempt to try and claw something back for humanity.

If all those men had been killed for nothing more than a tract of land, then at least poetry could transform them from ordinary Uncle Herberts to the tragic heroes they were. Can Roy Hattersley not accord them due respect for having been there?


Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, Anglesey