The Folio Book of War Poetry

Illustrated by Neil Gower

Binding and Title Page Illustration by Jonathan Lloyd

Selected and introduced by Andrew Motion

In an exclusive Folio anthology illustrated by Jonathan Lloyd and Neil Gower, former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion gathers together the greatest war poetry, from antiquity to the Cold War and beyond.

CA$100.00
CA$100.00
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‘[War poetry] exists to warn us about the brutal realities of conflict, and to strip away the comfortable lies of those who stay at home and send other people out to die. But the force of its warning depends on the way it also speaks of other and opposite things: of tenderness, of shock, of sorrow, of homesickness, of generosity, and of affection.’
  1. Andrew Motion

In his introduction to this unique Folio anthology, Andrew Motion tells us the best war poetry is ‘concerned with much more than war itself – which helps to explain why we take it so much to heart’. It is a promise fulfilled in the former Poet Laureate’s brilliant, eclectic selection, stretching from translations from Homer’s Iliad (‘the first and greatest of all war poems’) to 20th-century verse written in the shadow of nuclear apocalypse. Motion’s net takes in Anglo-Saxon epic, Cavalier poetry from the English Civil War and reactions to the horrors of the Blitz. There are works translated from classical Greek, Latin and Chinese, from medieval Welsh and from modern Polish and German. There is a strong showing from the First World War, with well-loved works by Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, but Motion seeks also to include lesser-heard voices on war, in poems by women including Emily Dickinson, Stevie Smith and Elizabeth Bishop. Bound in a camouflage-like binding The Folio Book of War Poetry is an anthology with as much to tell about human conflict as any history book, curated by one of Britain’s greatest living poets.

Bound in cloth printed and blocked with a design by Jonathan Lloyd

Set in Plantin

376 pages

Full colour title-page spread by Jonathan Lloyd, 10 integrated motifs printed in a second colour by Neil Gower

Blocked slipcase

9½˝ x 6¾˝

‘While anthologies such as this commemorate rare and valuable acts of speech, they are also echo chambers of absent voices. Marginalised voices, suppressed voices ... as well as voices cut short by fighting itself.’
  1. Andrew Motion

In this unique collection, Andrew Motion arranges his choices chronologically, bringing home how war and its poetry have changed through the ages. Although Anglo-American works make up the backbone of the anthology, other cultures are included; and there are selections that would not traditionally be considered war poetry, such as American patriotic songs, ribald rhymes from the trenches, and even Lewis Carroll’s nonsense verse. The book’s striking design is the work of two acclaimed illustrators. Jonathan Lloyd contributed bold, semi-abstract designs for the frontispiece and binding, while regular Folio Society collaborator Neil Gower created the swirling motifs that decorate the text.

Andrew Motion is an English poet, novelist and biographer. After graduating from the University of Oxford, where he studied under W. H Auden, he taught English at Hull University alongside Philip Larkin, whose official biographer he later became. In the 1980s, he edited the Poetry Review and acted as poetry editor at Chatto & Windus. Motion was UK Poet Laureate from 1999–2009. During this period, he founded the Poetry Archive, an online resource of poems and poets reading their own work. Questions of time, the erosion of places and the inner workings of memory are all themes that are encoded in Motion’s own poetry. The figure of the soldier appears in many of his poems; Motion has spent time with those who have served in wars, from World War Two to Afghanistan, and bears witness in his writing to their experiences of survival and death. He now lives in Baltimore, USA, where he is currently Homewood Professor of the Arts at Johns Hopkins University. 

HOMER
from The Iliad, Book 21, lines 273–332, translated by Robert Fitzgerald
from War Music by Christopher Logue
from The Iliad, Book 22, lines 323–445, translated by Robert Fitzgerald
from Memorial by Alice Oswald (2011)
from The Iliad, Book 24, lines 560–617, translated by Robert Fitzgerald
from The Iliad, Book 24, lines 414–60, translated by George Chapman
from The Iliad, Book 24, lines 567–646, translated by Alexander Pope

SIMONIDES
Take this message

VIRGIL
from The Aeneid, Book 12, lines 1285–377, translated by John Dryden

HORACE
Angustam amice, Odes, Book III, 2, translated by W. G. Shepherd

ANONYMOUS CHINESE (c. 1st century ce)
They fought south of the ramparts’, translated by Arthur Waley

ANEIRIN
from The Gododdin, translated by Joseph P. Clancy

RIHAKU
Lament of the Frontier Guard, translated by Ezra Pound

MOUS (c. 8th–11th century)
from Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney

ANONYMOUS (c. 10th–11th century)
from The Battle of Maldon, translated by Kevin Crossley-Holland

GEOFFREY CHAUCER
from Troilus and Criseyde, Book 1, stanzas 66–70, translated by Nevill Coghill

ANONYMOUS (c.1400)
from The Alliterative Morte Arthure, translated as The Death of King Arthur by Simon Armitage

ANONYMOUS (c. 14th century)
The Three Ravens

EDMUND SPENSER
from The Faerie Queene, Book 5, Canto 12, stanzas 13–23

HENRY HOWARD, EARL OF SURREY
Norfolk sprang thee, Lambeth holds thee dead

LODOWICK BRYSKETT
from A Pastoral Eclogue upon the Death of Sir Philip Sidney Knight

GEORGE PEELE
Farewell to Arms

SIR JOHN HARINGTON
Of the Wars in Ireland

LUCAN
from Lucan’s First Book (Pharsalia), translated by Christopher Marlowe

JOHN DONNE
A Burnt Ship

ROBERT HERRICK
To the King, upon His Taking of Leicester

R WILLIAM DAVENANT
The Soldier Going to the Field

RICHARD LOVELACE
To Lucasta, Going to the Wars

ANDREW MARVELL
An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland

JOHN MILTON
On the Late Massacre in Piedmont
On the Lord General Fairfax at the Siege of Colchester
from Paradise Lost, Book 6, lines 188–256

ABRAHAM COWLEY
from The Civil War, Book III

HENRY VAUGHAN
from An Elegy on the Death of Mr RW

MARGARET CAVENDISH
A Description of Civil Wars

JOHN DRYDEN
from Annus Mirabilis

SAMUEL JOHNSON
from The Vanity of Human Wishes

THOMAS GRAY
The Bard

JOHN SCOTT OF AMWELL
The Drum

ANNA LAETITIA BARBAULD
On the Expected General Rising of the French Nation in 1792

WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
Old Man Travelling
To the Men of Kent

MUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE
Fire, Famine, and Slaughter
Fears in Solitude

ROBERT SOUTHEY
The Battle of Blenheim

THOMAS CAMPBELL
Ye Mariners of England

FRANCIS SCOTT KEY
The Star-Spangled Banner

THOMAS LOVE PEACOCK
The War-Song of Dinas Vawr

GEORGE GORDON NOEL, LORD BYRON
The Destruction of Sennacherib
from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Canto the Third

CHARLES WOLFE
The Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna

PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY
from The Revolt of Islam

THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY, LORD MACAULAY
from Horatius

RALPH WALDO EMERSON
Concord Hymn

ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON
The Revenge
The Charge of the Light Brigade
from Maud

ROBERT BROWNING
Incident of the French Camp

WALT WHITMAN
Beat! beat! drums!
Come up from the fields father
Vigil strange I kept on the field one night
As toilsome I wandered Virginia’s woods
The Wound-Dresser

HERMAN MELVILLE
Shiloh

JULIA WARD HOWE
The Battle Hymn of the Republic

MATTHEW ARNOLD
from Sohrab and Rustum

EMILY DICKINSON
The name—of it—is “Autumn”—
It feels a shame to be Alive—
They dropped like Flakes—
My Portion is Defeat—today—
When I was small, a Woman died—

LEWIS CARROLL
Jabberwocky

AMBROSE BIERCE
At a National Encampment
A Year’s Casualties

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
The morning drum-call on my eager ear

THOMAS HARDY
Drummer Hodge

A Wife in London
Men Who March Away
In Time of ‘The Breaking of Nations
Channel Firing
from The Dynasts

RUPERT BROOKE
The Soldier

SIR HENRY NEWBOLT
Vitaï Lampada

W. B. YEATS
On Being Asked for a War Poem
An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

LAURENCE BINYON
For the Fallen

JOHN McCRAE
In Flanders Fields

CHARLES HAMILTON SORLEY
When you see millions . . .’

ROBERT FROST
Range-Finding

JULIAN GRENFELL
Into Battle

CLAUDE McKAY
If We Must Die

A. E. HOUSMAN
Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries
‘Soldier from the wars returning’
Astronomy

MAY SINCLAIR
Field Ambulance in Retreat

D. H. LAWRENCE
Bombardment

WILFRID GIBSON
A Lament

MAY WEDDERBURN CANNAN
Rouen

EDWARD THOMAS
In Memoriam (Easter 1915)
Rain
Roads
As the team’s head brass . . .’
Lights Out

MARGARET POSTGATE COLE
The Veteran

SIEGFRIED SASSOON
The General
Counter-Attack
Everyone Sang

FRANCIS LEDWIDGE
The Irish in Gallipoli
War

IVOR GURNEY
Song
To His Love
First Time In
The Silent One
Strange Hells
Varennes
War Books

JOSEPH SEAMON COTTER Jr
O, Little David, Play on your harp

ROBERT GRAVES
A Dead Boche

EDMUND BLUNDEN
Concert Party: Busseboom

ISAAC ROSENBERG
Break of Day in the Trenches
Returning, We Hear the Larks
Dead Man’s Dump

DAVID JONES
from In Parenthesis, Part 7

WILFRED OWEN
Anthem for Doomed Youth
I saw his round mouth’s crimson . . .’
Dulce Et Decorum Est
Strange Meeting
Futility
Mental Cases
The Send-Off
Exposure
Spring Offensive

ANONYMOUS (c. early 20th century)
For You but not for Me
Song
‘I don’t want to be a soldier ’
Pack Up Your Troubles
Oh! It’s a Lovely War

RUDYARD KIPLING
Danny Deever
Recessional
Gethsemane
My Boy Jack
The Children
from Epitaphs of the War 1914–18

EZRA POUND
from Hugh Selwyn Mauberley

PHILIP LARKIN
MCMXIV

VERNON SCANNELL
The Great War

JOHN CORNFORD
To Margot Heinemann

HUGH MacDIARMID
Another Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

C. DAY-LEWIS
Where are the War Poets?

EDITH SITWELL
Still Falls the Rain

SIDNEY KEYES
Timoshenko

SYLVIA TOWNSEND WARNER
Road, 1940

HENRY REED
from Lessons of the War

RICHARD EBERHART
The Fury of Aerial Bombardment

NORMAN CAMERON
Green, Green is El Aghir

ROY FULLER
The Middle of a War

JOHN BETJEMAN
In Memory of Basil, Marquess of Dufferin and Ava

SAMUEL BECKETT
Saint-Lô

LOUIS MACNEICE
The Streets of Laredo
Brother Fire

RANDALL JARRELL
The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner

DYLAN THOMAS
A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London

STEVIE SMITH
I Remember

ANNE RIDLER
Now As Then

ALAN ROSS
Destroyers in the Arctic

MOLLY HOLDEN
Seaman, 1941

ALUN LEWIS
All day it has rained . . .’
Song
Goodbye
The Mahratta Ghats

GAVIN EWART
When a Beau Goes In

KEITH DOUGLAS
Vergissmeinnicht
How to Kill
Aristocrats
Simplify me when I’m Dead

CHARLES CAUSLEY
At the British War Cemetery, Bayeux
Song of the Dying Gunner AA1

AMISH HENDERSON
First Elegy: End of a Campaign

ELIZABETH DARYUSH
War Tribunal

W. H. AUDEN
The Shield of Achilles

MIKLÓS RADNÓTI
Postcards, translated by Clive Wilmer and George Gömöri

ANNA ŚWIRSZCZYŃSKA
Building the Barricade, translated by Magnus Jan Kryński and Robert Maguire

ELIZABETH BISHOP
Roosters

PAUL CELAN
Deathfugue, translated by John Felstiner

ANTHONY HECHT
More Light! More Light!

TADEUSZ RÓŻEWICZ
The Survivor, translated by Adam Czerniawski

GEOFFREY HILL
September Song

PETER PORTER
Your Attention Please

Neil Gower is an internationally acclaimed freelance illustrator and artist, working across a range of media and styles. Over the past 30 years, he has worked with most major publishing houses in the UK and US, including Penguin, Random House, Transworld, Knopf and magazines such as The New Yorker and Vanity Fair. He was also the contributing artist to Conde Nast Traveller in New York for ten years. His celebrated book jacket designs include all the William Golding titles for Faber, as well as Bill Bryson’s entire backlist for Transworld. Neil has worked on over 100 binding designs for The Folio Society. His recent projects also include private commissions for Sir Roy Strong and Raymond Blanc. Marking a shift from distilling the words of others into paint, his first collection of poetry, Meet Me in Palermo, was released in 2021. He lives in Lewes, Sussex and – when global events permit – Kreuzberg, Berlin.

Jonathan Lloyd is an award-winning painter and printmaker. Having graduated from Maidstone College of Art in 1986 with a degree in Fine Art, he spent ten years in London working as an ice sculptor, before moving to Northumberland in 2004. Here, he returned to painting and printmaking. Lloyd has said about his work: ‘I like pictorial mechanisms that move the viewers gaze both emphatically and subtly, I’m interested in an interference between the rectilinear and something more lyrical and fluid’. He is a regular exhibitor in the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy and also the Royal Scottish Academy, and was shortlisted for the Newlight Art Prize in 2017.

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