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seaJane

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One for MichaelBully.

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Thanks Michael. Should have added the reference: from an anthology called A miscellany of poetry - 1919 edited by W. Kean Seymour with decorations by Doris Palmer (London: Cecil Palmer and Hayward, 1919).

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  • 3 weeks later...

About to write about this poem on my blog -but confused. I was under the impression that Wilfred Wilson Gibson didn't actually serve abroad.

This website here claims that he did !

After the outbreak of war, Gibson served as a private in the infantry on the Western Front. It was therefore from the perspective of the ordinary soldier that Gibson wrote his war poetry.

http://firstworldwar.com/poetsandprose/gibson.htm

I know that the 'Troopship ' poem is not claiming to be written to be written from personal experiences. It's about US servicemen travelling to the Western Front following the entry of the USA as an Associated power to the Allies.

Regards, Michael Bully

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Have you checked the Oxford DNB? If you can't, I will.

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Gibson never served abroad. However unlike most of the 'war poets' he did not attend university and his pre-war poetry gave him an affinity with the working class which translated to the experience of the soldier. Rejected a number of times he was serving as a medical orderly clerk when he wrote 'The Chart' previously posted on this thread

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=212808&hl=dereham&page=2 (post 19 & 26).

For a more authoritative source on war poets and a short bio

http://www.warpoets.org/poets/wilfrid-wilson-gibson-1878-1962/

(President Tim Kendall)

Ken

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Hello Ken and SJ !

Ken -Yes one of the sources I'd read which said that Gibson didn't serve abroad was the Dominic Hibberd/John Onions anthology 'The Winter of the World' : It was Dominic Hibberd who wrote the War Poets Association piece on Gibson you've highlighted.

I'm not doubting that Gibson was a compassionate man with a strong sense of social justice, nor denigrating his creative ability as a poet.

But was surprised to find a claim on line that he had actually served abroad.

SJ - yes anything that you can unearth via the DNB would be welcome. Many thanks

Regards to you both

Michael Bully

Gibson never served abroad. However unlike most of the 'war poets' he did not attend university and his pre-war poetry gave him an affinity with the working class which translated to the experience of the soldier. Rejected a number of times he was serving as a medical orderly clerk when he wrote 'The Chart' previously posted on this thread

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=212808&hl=dereham&page=2 (post 19 & 26).

For a more authoritative source on war poets and a short bio

http://www.warpoets.org/poets/wilfrid-wilson-gibson-1878-1962/

(President Tim Kendall)

Ken

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Brian Gardner (Up The Line To Death) states 'Served in the ranks from 1914, but only spent a short time at the front'. I can only find one MIC for Wilfrid Gibson, and it's definitely not the poet.

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ODNB extract:

"In the first years of the war Gibson made several attempts to enlist, but was turned down because of his poor eyesight. American enthusiasm for Brooke was partly reflected in an invitation to Gibson to lecture, and his US tour in 1917 was prolonged and successful. Macmillan, New York, published Gibson's Collected Poems. Also in 1917, he was accepted by the Army Service Corps, where he served until 1919. His writings of this time include the well-known war poem entitled 'Breakfast' (which appeared in The Nation on 17 October 1914). In this and 'The Return' he showed his compassion for the ordinary man and woman, and in 'The Lament' he wrote movingly of 'the heartbreak at the heart of things' (W. W. Gibson, The Lament)."

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Michael

See also http://www.dymockpoets.org.uk/Gibson.htm

which gives a little more detail of his war service in the ASC

i.e. 1917 - 1919 Medical officer's orderly clerk Sydenham.

It is a common misconception that he was on active service overseas and the site you quoted was an original lift from Wikipedia or vice versa but it seems Wikipedia has been amended and makes no mention of his war service.

Ken

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Thanks for all these replies. Much appreciated. I'm interested to see why Gibson particularly wrote about SS Baltic rather than any other troopship.

Also found an evaluation of Gibson's work by Tim Kendall , particularly the poem 'breakfast'

http://war-poets.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/wilfrid-gibson-breakfast.html

Need to see if Gibson wrote any other 'Great War at Sea' poems besides 'Troopship' !

Regards

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Just been consulting 'Poetry of the First World War' edited by Tim Kendall (2013) . Seven poems are included but not 'Troopship'. Some interesting biographical information, mentioning that Gibson was on a lecture tour of the USA in the first half of 1917. This might have given him the idea for 'Troopship' as his visit would have coincided with the USA entering the Great War.

Also found that Martin Stephen in 'The Price of Pity-Poetry, History and Myth in the Great War' (1996) has a short section on Wilfred Gibson,stressing that his use of colloquial language in war poetry had great significance.

Happy New Year

Michael Bully

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've written some thoughts on WIlfred Gibson and the 'Troopship ' poem on my blog. Hope to get to the British Library on Saturday to look at some more of his work.

Many thanks for everyone's help- particularly grateful to Sea Jane.

Regards, Michael Bully

http://greatwaratsea.blogspot.co.uk/

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  • 3 weeks later...

Er, just to say, the spelling should be Dymock...

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Oops. thanks, better correct this! Thanks SJ.

Er, just to say, the spelling should be Dymock...

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And talking of spelling errors, noticed I had used 'Wilfred' Gibson, which has sometimes been used : But corrected webpage to use 'Wilfrid ' instead. This was certainly how his name appeared in earlier anthologies such as 'Georgian Poetry 1913-1915'

Another pal has directed me to Matthew Hollis excellent book on Edward Thomas 'Now All Roads Lead to France-The Last Years of Edward Thomas' for references to Wilfrid Gibson. Will be pleased to re-read this !

Oops. thanks, better correct this! Thanks SJ.

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And talking of spelling errors, noticed I had used 'Wilfred' Gibson, which has sometimes been used

Michael,

You're in good company – this from the University of Gloucestershire web-site today

we offer postgraduate students some first-class resources, such as the Dymock Poets Archive, containing manuscripts, first editions and other materials relating to Robert Frost, Lascelles Abercrombie, Edward Thomas, Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Gibson and Eleanor Farjeon

...............................................................................................................

Just a few days ago I received a 1916 edition of 'Friends' which I bought because of the RND connection and references to Brooke and William Dennis Browne. I already had however, an interest in Gibson as a fellow Northumbrian; until his death last year, my father was still living under Hareshaw (see Whin 1918).

The last two pages of Friends are an advertisement for its immediate predecessor, Battle, and in the style of the time they reprint press notices. One is from The Quarterly Review written by Gibson's friend from Dymock, Lascelles Abercrombie, and I thought that it may be of interest here

“They are extremely objective; a series of short dramatic lyrics, written with the simplicity and directness which Mr Gibson chiefly studies in his exceptional art, expressing, without any implied comment, but with profoundly implied emotion, the feelings, thoughts, sensations of soldiers in the midst of the actual experiences of modern warfare. The emotion they imply is not patriotic, but simply and broadly human; this is what war means, we feel; these exquisite bodies insulted by agony and death, these incalculable spirits devastated. What all this destruction is for is taken for granted. Modern warfare is not beautiful, and Mr Gibson doers not try to gloss it in the usual way, by underlining the heroism and endurance it evokes. All that is simply assumed in these poems, just as the common soldier himself assumes it. An almost appalling heroism is unemphatically revealed in them as the fundamental fact of usual human nature. This is the ground-bass, and above its constancy plays the ever-varying truth of what fighting means to some individual piece of human nature. The poems are moments isolated and fixed out of the infinite changing flux of human reaction to the terrible galvanism of war. But that thrilling galvanism does not alter human kind; and sometimes Mr Gibson forces us to realise the vast unreason of war by bringing into withering contact with its current a mind still preoccupied with the habits of peace.”

regards

Michael

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