Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

A Second Look at The International Poetry of the First World War by Constance Ruzich

Back in April 2021 our reviewer Bryan Alexander wrote a highly laudatory review of this work published by Bloomsbury. It contains 150 examples of Great War verse, much of it forgotten or from non-English language sources selected with commentary by the presenter of the Behind Their Lines blog, Connie Ruzich. Since we published our review, however, there have been two developments that I thought our readers would like to hear about.

First, International Poetry has received more rave reviews.  Here's a sampling:

From the Times Literary Supplement by Jean Moorcroft Wilson, University of London
. . . Constance Ruzich's conclusion, that we can never fully grasp the multitude of ways in which "the men, women and children who lived through the war composed their own experiences of the ordeal," is undeniable. But her effort to recover "the complexity of the time, the people and the poetry of the First World War" has rounded out the picture, making this collection well worth reading.

From  English Studies by Andrew Frayn, Edinburgh Napier University:

. . . There is no doubt that International Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology of Lost Voices will reshape our understanding of First World War poetry, which remains dominant in the conflict’s literature. Its editing is a major achievement by Constance M. Ruzich, who recuperates to the critical discussion a substantial breadth of material by many different markers of literary form, nationality and identity. It is a salutary reminder that, as Ruzich notes, “there was no single representative experience of the Great War, nor was there a typical response to the conflict”

Before we go on, here's one of the selections. In “A Memory” Margaret Sackville ponders a savaged village but, not from a military standpoint:

The second matter for discussion involves some good news for our readers. With the publication of the work, Bloomsbury made, in my view, a serious error. Their marketing information offered only a hard copy version of the book for a whopping $200 each. I'm sure it was beautifully bound, but I'm also sure it killed the initial market for the book.  However, matters have now been corrected.  As you can see from the insert on the right,  there is now a paperback version of International Poetry available from Amazon for a much more reasonable price of $39.95  Furthermore, if you  wish to go to the Bloomsbury-US Website,  the volume is offered at  the same base price but with a substantial discount price, if you use the codes below when you order. Also, they have Kindle and PDF versions of the work now for sale.

If you are at all interested in the poetry of the war, I hope you will purchase The International Poetry of the First World War.  Connie Ruzich has been making an important contribution to the study of the events of 1914-18, and she deserves our support. MH


  1. My late brother was a poet - he taught poetry at a college, published two books, made no money. He told me that the only purchasers of poetry books are libraries. If he was correct that may help to explain why the hard cover costs $200.

  2. Ah, excellent. Delighted to see it now in paper. More readers!