The Poetry Archive’s World War Poetry Showcase is based on the collection put together for our national poetry recitation competition, Poetry by Heart, to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

Of course, there are plenty of anthologies of First World War poetry. This one is different in that it contains an unusually wide range of voices – some widely celebrated, some much less well-known; some from Britain, some from Germany and elsewhere; some men and some women; some speaking from the trenches, some from behind the lines or at home; some describing the heat of battle, some reflecting on the conflict from later in the century.

Taken all together, they create an extraordinary kind of witness – harrowing as well as humbling and heartening; they present the war as a devastating moment in history and remind us that its resonances never end.

To view the full Poetry by Heart anthology, click here.

1914, Working With Red in a Field Hospital, Belgium - Jane Weir
At the British War Cemetery, Bayeux - Charles Causley
Blood and Lead - James Fenton
Break of Day in the Trenches - Isaac Rosenberg - Read by Andrew Motion
Concert Party - Edmund Blunden
During the War - Philip Levine
Elegy for a Soldier - Marilyn Hacker
In Time of ‘The Breaking of Nations’ - Thomas Hardy - Read by Anthony Thwaite

Lights Out

Read by Andrew Motion
Lights Out - Edward Thomas - Read by Andrew Motion

Lights Out

Read by Helen Thomas
Lights Out - Edward Thomas - Read by Helen Thomas
Mametz Wood - Owen Sheers

The Show

Read by Simon Armitage
The Show - Wilfred Owen - Read by Simon Armitage
Soldiering On - David Constantine

Strange Hells

Read by Glyn Maxwell
Strange Hells - Ivor Gurney - Read by Glyn Maxwell
Stretcher Bearer - Alistair Te Ariki Campbell

The Send-off

Read by Andrew Motion
The Send-off - Wilfred Owen - Read by Andrew Motion