illustration of two soldiers, one in a kilt, standing in front of a trench

World War I Poetry

June 2017

Continuing with our commemoration of the centennial of the United States' involvement in World War I, and inspired by a June program, "Bards of War: Poets at the Western Front 1914-1918," the Library's June exhibit focused on poetry from and about World War I. (The illustration at right is from "Songs from the Trenches" by British poet Captain Charles W. Blackall.)

Left display case, with several volumes of WWI poetry

At the time of World War I, print was still a dominant medium. The printed word recorded the lamentations and exaltations of soldiers and their families, emergency workers, and civilians caught in the midst of war. Poetry was a chosen vehicle of expression for them.

  • Eaton, William D., ed.  The War in Verse and Prose.  Chicago, Illinois: T.S. Denison, 1918. 
    NYSL Call Number: Z 940.491, E14
  • Choyce, A.N.  Memory: Poems of War and Love.  New York, New York: John Lane, 1918. 
    NYSL Call Number: Z 821.91, C552m
  • Smylie, Adolphe E.  The Marines, and Other War Verse.  New York, New York: Knickerbocker, 1919.
    NYSL Call Number: Z 811.5, S666m
  • Galloway, Kyle.  Soldier Poets.  London: Erskine MacDonald, 1918. 
    NYSL Call Number: Z 821.91, S68
  • Crosland, T.W.H.  War Poems By “X”.  Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page, 1917. 
    NYSL Call Number: Z 940.491, W25


center display case, with several volumes of WWI poetry

There is great diversity in the voices of the World War I poets that comes across through the text; for example, the reader may detect British inflections, French figures of speech, and Prussian dialect. 

  • Blackall, C.W.  Songs from the Trenches.  New York, New York: John Lane, 1915. 
    NYSL Call Number: 821.91, B62s
  • Braithwaithe, William S.  Victory! Celebrated by Thirty-Eight American Poets.  Boston, Massachusetts: Small, Maynard, 1919. 
    NYSL Call Number Z 811.5, B814
  • McHugh, Mary A.  Echoes of the Great War.  Boston, Massachusetts: Christopher, 1931. 
    NYSL Call Number: Z 811.5, M151e
  • McCollum, Lee C.  History and Rhymes of the Lost Battalion.  Columbus, Ohio: Author, 1929. 
    NYSL Call Number: Z 940.491, M12
  • McAllister, C.B., ed.  Selected Poems for Armistice Day.  New York, New York: Dean, 1928. 
    NYSL Call Number: C 394.268, A73m
right display case, with additional WWI poetry books

The bulk of original World War I poetry books were published between 1915-1920. Many selections from these books were later anthologized. The New York State Library holds a number of the original works, some over one hundred years old, some containing photos and illustrations.

  • Pell, Stephen.  War Verses, 1917-1918.  Garden City, New York: Country Life, 1919. 
    NYSL Call Number: Z 811.5, P38
  • Wilson, Eugene E.  Comrades of the Mist, and Other Rhymes of the Grand Fleet.  New York, New York: George Sully, 1919. 
    NYSL Call Number: Z 940.491, W74
  • Tucker, Allen. There and Here. New York, New York: Duffield, 1919. 
    NYSL Call Number:  Z 811.5, T891
  • Chunn, Culpepper. The Heel of Mars. New York, New York: Edwin Day Sibley, 1918. 
    NYSL Call Number: Z 811.5, C559h
  • Mackintosh, Ewart A. War, the Liberator, and Other Pieces. New York, New York: John Lane, 1918.
    NYSL Call Number: Z 821.91, M158w

These books are available for loan, depending on their condition.


Exhibit curated by Michael Meyer, with preservation assistance from Kerry Shermer.

Last Updated: July 6, 2017