Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’

Poetry as Social Commentary

February 9, 2010

I created this lesson to use in my summer school English course, but these poems could certainly be used in a history or humanities course as well. The point was to look at poetry written in a certain time and use it as a lens to see how the author– and presumably others at that moment in history– perceived the world around them. I chose four poems by Spike Milligan, an Irish WWII vet and pal of the Monty Python troupe, to look at his criticism of war (WWII and Vietnam) and modern society. He is Irish and worked in Britain for much of his adult life, but his criticisms certainly apply to American culture as well.

The Soldiers at Lauro

by Spike Milligan

(Italy 1943)

Young are the dead
Like babies they lie
The wombs they once blest
Not healed dry
And yet—too soon
Into each space
A cold earth falls
On colder face.
Quite still they lie
These fresh reeds
Clutched in earth like winter seeds
But these will not bloom
When called by spring
To burst with leaf
And blossoming
They will sleep on
In silence dust
As crosses rot
And memories rust.