An Unknown Soldier: A Poem, in Three Parts, on the First World War by David Henningham

An Unknown Soldier: A Poem, in Three Parts, on the First World War

byDavid Henningham

Kobo ebook | December 4, 2014

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"A ferocious assault on sentimental pieties... A disordered pile of polyglot fragments...delivered by a garrulous corpse. Henningham’s mordant wit and avant-garde flair is part of another poetic tradition stretching back to Wyndham Lewis, Ezra Pound and the Dada pranksters of Zürich. [An Unknown Soldier] brings a much-needed sense of indignation and disgust to present-day rituals of commemoration and gives a voice to the anonymous war dead of all nations without tapping into simple patriotic sentimentality." David Collard, The Times Literary Supplement What is the meaning of an Unknown Soldier in the age of DNA testing? Does he now embody our desire to ignore the past, rather than remember? This poem crumbles. The conjunctions have decayed to leave the disjointed polyglot dialect of a peripatetic Unknown Soldier. He takes us on a tour of no-man's land; simultaneously his body and his battlefield. Part one, 'Preparatory Oratory', satirises official remembrance rites with a voice like the bastard-child of BLAST and the Book of Common Prayer. The second body of text is 'An Unknown Soldier' himself. The verses reflect the human frame like a mirror; the poem has a head, a foot and a ‘Red Giant’ where his heart used to be. The soldier takes the reader on a progress through ‘The Capital’ at his belly, then on to ‘The Nobiskrug’ at his stomach; the tavern on the road to hell where we are reminded that life is like a refreshing pint that will be collected in no matter how well we nurse it. Then on to the ‘Semen’s Mission’, where a lost generation speaks, and finally the ‘Labour Exchange’ where new arrivals are equipped for their life underground. Emerging throughout are precious anecdotes, all with a void at the heart like no-man’s land itself. The poem is interrupted by distorted letter forms that cut through the page like trenches in a battlefield. They allude to the dazzle camouflage created by Modernist artists like Edward Wadsworth. In part three the barrage of words subsides and is replaced with a calmer, restored faith in technology. Three restrained stanzas report on Henningham's family on the Home Front and in peacetime. The flood barrier and copying machines mentioned are emblematic of repressed emotion and proliferation.
Title:An Unknown Soldier: A Poem, in Three Parts, on the First World WarFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:December 4, 2014Publisher:Henningham Family PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0956316670

ISBN - 13:9780956316677

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