10 Most Famous Poems About Wars And Battles (2022)

War poetry is poetry about war either written by a person who participates in a war and writes about his experiences; or by a non-combatant. One of the oldest extant works of Western literature, Iliad, is a war poem. It is set during the Trojan War, one of the most important events in Greek mythology. The most famous 19th century war poem is Alfred Lord Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade, which is inspired by an event in the Crimean War. Famous novelist Thomas Hardy also wrote a number of significant war poems including The Man He Killed. The term war poet is sometimes applied especially to those who served during World War I. English soldier Wilfred Owen is perhaps the most famous war poet in that sense. Many of his poems; including Dulce et Decorum est, Disabled and Anthem for Doomed Youth; are among the best known anti-war poems ever written. Here are the 10 most famous war poems of all time.

#10 Disabled

Poet: Wilfred Owen

Published: 1917

Wilfred Owen served as a British soldier during World War I and was killed one week before the war ended. Owen transferred what he felt about the war into poetry and most of his poems were published posthumously. Wilfred Owen is regarded by many as the greatest poet of the First World War and several of his poems are among the most famous war poems ever written. Disabled is one of his best known works. It expresses the thoughts and recollections of a teen-aged soldier in World War I who has lost his limbs in battle and is now confined to a wheelchair. The soldier contrasts his present situation with his joyful youth. He also laments how women no longer look at him but at “the strong men who were whole”.


Now, he will spend a few sick years in institutes,

And do what things the rules consider wise,

And take whatever pity they may dole.

Tonight he noticed how the women’s eyes

Passed from him to the strong men that were whole.

How cold and late it is! Why don’t they come

And put him into bed? Why don’t they come?

#9 The Shield of Achilles

Poet: W. H. Auden

Published: 1952

The Shield of Achilles is the shield that Achilles uses in his fight with Hector in Homer’s epic Iliad. Auden’s poem uses the shield to bring out a contrast between the heroic past and the unheroic present. It is written in two different stanza forms, one with shorter lines and the other with longer lines. The stanzas with shorter lines describe the making of the shield by the god Hephaestus. Achilles’s mother Thetis expects to find scenes of happiness and peace on the shield, as in Homer’s Iliad. However, Auden’s version replaces them with scenes of a barren and impersonal modern world. The Shield of Achilles is one of the most critically appreciated anti-war poems of the 20th century. It is filled with images of absence of hope and meaning in modern life and Auden makes these images appear even more sorrowful by juxtaposing them with classical imagery of the Iliad.


Out of the air a voice without a face

Proved by statistics that some cause was just

In tones as dry and level as the place:

No one was cheered and nothing was discussed;

Column by column in a cloud of dust

They marched away enduring a belief

Whose logic brought them, somewhere else, to grief.

#8 The Man He Killed

Poet: Thomas Hardy

Published: 1902

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Thomas Hardy was an influential English poet and novelist in the Victorian era. He wrote this poem at the time of the Second Boer War between the British Empire and the two Boer states, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, over the control of South Africa. Hardy didn’t support British Empire’s invasion of South Africa as he believed that the Boers were only defending their land against the English. In this poem, the narrator, an unnamed soldier, struggles with his thoughts as he faces his foe on the battlefield. He thinks that in another situation he could have befriended the person who he has to fight against. Although he kills his opponent, he wonders how strange war is which makes a person kill someone he could have befriended easily. The Man He Killed is one of the most famous war poems of the 20th century.


“Yes; quaint and curious war is!

You shoot a fellow down

You’d treat if met where any bar is,

Or help to half-a-crown.”

#7 Easter, 1916

Poet: William Butler Yeats

Published: 1921

Easter Rising was an armed insurrection in Ireland against British rule on Easter Monday, April 24, 1916. The uprising was unsuccessful, and most of the Irish republican leaders involved were executed for treason. It is famous for being the event that brought Irish republicanism to the forefront in the politics of the country, which ultimately led to the Irish War of Independence. Though Yeats was against violence as means to achieve Irish independence, he was shocked at the executions of the revolutionaries and understood their contribution to the greater national cause. He wrote this poem to commemorate the martyrs of the Easter Rising. It is the best-known literary work to come out of the event and its line “A terrible beauty is born” is one of the most famous in modern poetry.


I write it out in a verse –

MacDonagh and MacBride

And Connolly and Pearse

Now and in time to be,

Wherever green is worn,

Are changed, changed utterly:

A terrible beauty is born.

#6 Anthem for Doomed Youth

Poet: Wilfred Owen

Published: 1917

During World War I, Wilfred Owen was blown up by a trench mortar and spent several days unconscious among the remains of one of his fellow officers. A few days later he was diagnosed as suffering from shell shock and sent to a hospital for treatment. While recovering, Owen met Siegfried Sassoon, a fellow soldier and poet. Sassoon had a deep influence on Owen’s poetic voice. However, ultimately, Owen’s poetry became much more widely acclaimed than that of his mentor. Anthem for Doomed Youth was written between September and October 1917, when Owen was a patient at Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh. Written in the traditional form of a Petrarchan sonnet, the poem is a lament for young soldiers whose lives were unnecessarily lost in the First World War.


What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?

Only the monstrous anger of the guns.

Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle

Can patter out their hasty orisons.

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No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;

Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—

The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;

And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?

Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes

Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.

The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;

Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,

And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

#5 The Soldier

Poet: Rupert Brooke

Published: 1914

Rupert Brooke was an English poet best known for his idealistic war poems which were hugely popular in his country during the First World War. The Soldier is the most famous among them. It is the fifth in a series of five sonnets published as a collection titled 1914 & Other Poems. A Petrarchan sonnet, The Soldier represents the patriotic ideals that characterized pre-war England. In the octave of the sonnet, the narrator portrays death for one’s country as a noble end and says that his grave will become a part of England. In the sestet, he talks about his sacrifice for England as redemption saying that life would be the most appropriate thing to give his motherland in return for the great things she has given to him. The Soldier is one of the best known pro-war poems in English literature.


If I should die, think only this of me:

That there’s some corner of a foreign field

That is for ever England. There shall be

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;

A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,

Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,

A body of England’s, breathing English air,

Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,

A pulse in the eternal mind, no less

Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;

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Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;

And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,

In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

#4 The Charge of the Light Brigade

Poet: Alfred Lord Tennyson

Published: 1854

The Charge of the Light Brigade was a charge of British light cavalry led by Lord Cardigan against Russian forces during the Battle of Balaclava on 25th October 1854, in the Crimean War. It was originally intended to send the Light Brigade to pursue a retreating Russian force but miscommunication led to them launching a suicidal attack against a different and heavily defended position. Weeks after news of the assault reached Britain, Tennyson, the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom at the time, wrote this poem to commemorate the heroism of the Light Brigade for bravely carrying out their orders regardless of the obvious outcome. The poem has since remained hugely popular and it is one of the most famous works of Alfred Lord Tennyson.


Not though the soldier knew

Someone had blundered.

Theirs not to make reply,

Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs but to do and die.

Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

#3 Dulce et Decorum est

Poet: Wilfred Owen

Published: 1920

“Dulce et Decorum est” is a Latin title taken from the Roman poet Horace. It means “it is sweet and honorable”. Owen’s poem combines two sonnets and thus it consists of 28 lines. It focuses on a scene from the front lines of the First World War in which British soldiers are attacked with chlorine gas. As the shells with the poisonous gas explode, one soldier is unable to put his mask on in time due to the rush. The narrator of the poem then describes the gruesome effects the gas has on the man. He then concludes by saying, if one were to see first-hand the reality of war, one might not repeat false but common statements like dulce et decorum est pro patria mori: “How sweet and honorable it is to die for one’s country.” Dulce et Decorum est is the most famous poem of one of the greatest war poets of all time.


If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood

Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,

Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud

Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest

To children ardent for some desperate glory,

The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est

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Pro patria mori.

#2 In Flanders Fields

Poet: John McCrae

Published: 1915

John McCrae was a Canadian poet and physician who served as a soldier during World War I. Though he had the option of joining the medical corps, he volunteered instead to join a fighting unit as a gunner and medical officer at the age of 41. McCrae fought in the Second Battle of Ypres in the Flanders region of Belgium. On May 2, 1915, his close friend and former student Alexis Helmer was killed by a German shell. McCrae wrote this poem the following day after presiding over the funeral of his friend. According to legend, fellow soldiers retrieved the poem after McCrae, initially dissatisfied with his work, discarded it. The poem is written from the point of view of the dead. It talks about their sacrifice and urges the living to press on. In Flanders Fields is one of Canada’s best-known literary works and it is also widely known in the United States where it is associated with Veterans Day and Memorial Day. It is perhaps the most popular and most quoted poem of the First World War.


In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place, and in the sky,

The larks, still bravely singing, fly,

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead; short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe!

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high!

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

#1 Iliad

Poet: Homer

Year: 8th century BC

In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Greeks after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, king of Sparta. Iliad is an ancient Greek epic poem which focuses on the Trojan War with the Greek warrior Achilles being its primary focus. It is set during the ten-year siege of Troy by a coalition of Greek states. It recounts some of the significant events of the final weeks of the Trojan War. It mentions or alludes to many of the Greek legends about the siege; the earlier events; and the causes of the war. It also talks about events prophesied for the future, such as Achilles’ imminent death and the fall of Troy. Along with its sequel, the Odyssey, the Iliad is among the oldest extant and best known works in Western literature. It is the most famous war poem of all time.


Like the generations of leaves, the lives of mortal men. Now the wind scatters the old leaves across the earth, now the living timber bursts with the new buds and spring comes round again. And so with men: as one generation comes to life, another dies away.

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10 Most Famous Poems About Wars And Battles? ›

Top 10 war poems
  • The Battle of Maldon (Anonymous) ...
  • The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Lord Tennyson. ...
  • Drummer Hodge by Thomas Hardy. ...
  • Christ and the Soldier by Siegfried Sassoon. ...
  • Strange Meeting by Wilfred Owen. ...
  • Aristocrats by Keith Douglas. ...
  • Requiem for the Croppies by Seamus Heaney. ...
  • Platform One by Ted Hughes.
Jul 30, 2014

What are the 10 most popular poem? ›

The Ten Best Poems of All Time
  • Still I Rise by Maya Angelou.
  • Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare.
  • O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman.
  • The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe.
  • Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas.
  • i carry your heart with me by e.e. cummings.
  • Power by Audre Lorde.
  • The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.
Apr 28, 2021

Who produced the greatest poems about war? ›

Wilfred Owen is regarded by many as the greatest poet of the First World War and several of his poems are among the most famous war poems ever written. Disabled is one of his best known works.

What is the name of the most famous poem of World war 1? ›

John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow,” it reads, “Between the crosses, row on row.” John McCrae died from pneumonia and meningitis in 1918, but not before the poem became one of World War I's most popular and widely quoted works of literature.

Who is the most famous ww1 poet? ›

Wilfred Owen

English war poet Wilfred Owen is perhaps the most famous poet of World War One, despite only 5 of his poems being published during his lifetime. Owen enlisted in 1915, aged 21.

Who is most famous poem? ›

Most Famous Poems: 20 of the Best
  • #1. From 'The Highwayman' by Alfred Noyes (1906) ...
  • #2. 'A Red, Red Rose' by Robert Burns (1794) ...
  • #3. 'Crossing the Bar' by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1889) ...
  • #4. From 'The Raven' by Edgar Allan Poe (1845) ...
  • #5. From 'Howl' by Allan Ginsberg (1956) ...
  • #6. ...
  • #7. ...
  • #8.
Oct 6, 2021

What poems should I read? ›

Plus Some Bonus Poems, Because We Love You
  • William Carlos Williams, “The Red Wheelbarrow” ...
  • T. S. Eliot, “The Waste Land” ...
  • Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken” ...
  • Gwendolyn Brooks, “We Real Cool” ...
  • Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art” ...
  • Emily Dickinson, “Because I could not stop for Death –” ...
  • Langston Hughes, “Harlem” ...
  • Sylvia Plath, “Daddy”
Mar 7, 2019

What is a short famous poem? ›

1 'I wandered lonely as a cloud' by William Wordsworth. 2 'Sonnet 18' by William Shakespeare. 3 'The Road Not Taken' by Robert Frost. 4 'Death Be Not Proud' by John Donne.

What type of poems are war poems? ›

There is patriotic poetry, which honors the sacrifice and bravery of the soldiers who fight for their country. Anti-war poetry sees no glory in war but only destruction and suffering. Witness poetry is written by those who experience the effects of war first hand but are not participants in the fighting.

What is anti-war poem? ›

the poem which is related to peace and (shanti)

What is Wilfred Owen's most famous poem? ›

One of the most famous of all war poems and probably the best-known of all of Wilfred Owen's poems, 'Dulce et Decorum Est' (the title is a quotation from the Roman poet Horace, Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori or 'it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country') was written in response to the jingoistic pro-war ...

What is the most popular form of poetry used in the war poetry? ›

Elegy. Elegy (Poetry Foundation, n.d.)

What is war poetry in English literature? ›

War poetry is a literary genre originated during war time when hundreds of soldiers, and also civilians caught up in conflict, started to write poetry as a way of striving to express extreme emotion at the very edge of experience.

Why did ww1 soldiers write poetry? ›

The reason that the soldiers in World War One wrote poetry is because they used it as an outlet for their feelings, they wanted to say what was happening in the trenches when others couldn't, and it was a pass-time for them during their downtime in the trenches.

What makes a good war poem? ›

What do you feel makes and good war poem? Stuart: A good war poem is one that transcends the conflict it originates from, presenting us with an emotional engagement that will be timeless.

Who was the first poet in the world? ›

"Between History and Fiction — Enheduana, the First Poet in World Literature".

How many poems were written ww1? ›

Published poets wrote over two thousand poems about and during the war.

Who is the war poet of modern age? ›

The most recent translation has been made by Hungarian-American poet Erika Papp Faber.

Which poet died at the time of war? ›

Wilfred Owen
A plate from his 1920 Poems by Wilfred Owen, depicting him
BornWilfred Edward Salter Owen 18 March 1893 Oswestry, Shropshire, England
Died4 November 1918 (aged 25) Sambre–Oise Canal, France
GenreWar poetry
11 more rows

Why was Wilfred Owen's death so tragic? ›

Hindsight also attributes huge significance to Owen's death, but it must be remembered that, at the time, he was not well-known and so the tragedy was felt only by his family and friends - and they were far from alone in experiencing such grief.

What is Shakespeare's best poem? ›

#1 Sonnet 18

Sonnet 18 is the most famous poem written by William Shakespeare and among the most renowned sonnets ever written.

What are the 3 types of poems? ›

Although poetry is a form of self-expression that knows no bounds, it can be safely divided into three main genres: lyric poetry, narrative poetry and dramatic poetry. Keep reading to see examples of poetry genres in each of these genres.

What are 3 poems Shakespeare wrote? ›

2. William Shakespeare's poems and sonnets
  • Venus and Adonis, created in about 1592-1593. ...
  • The Rape of Lucrece, created in about 1593-1594. ...
  • The Passionate Pilgrim. ...
  • The Phoenix and Turtle, perhaps created in about 1601. ...
  • The Sonnets, perhaps created during the 1590s and early 1600s.

Where can I find good poems? ›

Where To Find Free Poetry Online
  • Poets.org. The Academy of American Poets was founded in 1934 with a mission to support and advocate for poets financially and artistically. ...
  • PoetryFoundation.org. ...
  • ButtonPoetry.com. ...
  • LittleInfinite.com. ...
  • FamousPoetsAndPoems.com. ...
  • TheOtherPages.org/poems.
Apr 8, 2020

What are some positive poems? ›

5 of the Most Inspirational Poems to Restore Your Mental Grit and Courage
  1. Invictus ("Unconquered") (William Ernest Henley)
  2. Don't Quit (Edgar A. ...
  3. If (Rudyard Kipling) ...
  4. How Did You Die? (Edmund Vance Cooke) ...
  5. Desiderata ("Desired Things") (Max Ehrman) ...
  6. Character of the Happy Warrior (William Wordsworth) ...
Feb 23, 2017

Is a poem of 14 lines? ›

Sonnet. A 14-line poem with a variable rhyme scheme originating in Italy and brought to England by Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, earl of Surrey in the 16th century.

What is the most common poem? ›

There are various forms of sonnets, but the most popular tends to be the English or Shakespearean sonnet. It is a 14 line poem written in iambic pentameter. The poem will end in a rhyming couplet. There are much more to these of course, but this is the general definition.

What is the theme of war poetry? ›

War poetry is not necessarily 'anti-war'. It is, however, about the very large questions of life: identity, innocence, guilt, loyalty, courage, compassion, humanity, duty, desire, death.

How many people died in ww2? ›

An estimated 40,000,000 to 50,000,000 people died during World War II.

Is After Blenheim a war poem? ›

"After Blenheim" is an anti-war poem written by English Romantic poet laureate Robert Southey in 1796. The poem is set at the site of the Battle of Blenheim (1704), with the questions of two small children about a skull one of them has found.

How do you write a war poem? ›

Write a poem inspired by WW1 - step by step tutorial for kids (Simon Mole ...

How did Wilfred Owen feel about war? ›

Wilfred Owen, (born March 18, 1893, Oswestry, Shropshire, England—killed November 4, 1918, France), English poet noted for his anger at the cruelty and waste of war and his pity for its victims. He also is significant for his technical experiments in assonance, which were particularly influential in the 1930s.

What is the message of Dulce et Decorum Est? ›

The central tension of this poem is between the reality of the war and the government's portrayal of war as sweet, right and fitting to die for your country. The message that the poet conveys is the reality of the war that is horrific and inhuman.

What does Dulce et Decorum Est meaning? ›

The poem takes its its title from a poem by Roman poet Horace, and means “it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country”.

How many war poems did Wilfred Owen wrote? ›

In November 1918 he was killed in action at the age of 25, one week before the Armistice. Only five poems were published in his lifetime—three in the Nation and two that appeared anonymously in the Hydra, a journal he edited in 1917 when he was a patient at Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh.

What is a warrior poet? ›

Warrior Poets are those who train and fight for a higher purpose. They are members of a rare fraternity of warriors who fight with intellect, conviction, and great skill. Motivated by a love for others, Warrior Poets become students of the art of war so that they may triumph when the enemy calls.

Is remembered as a war poet? ›

AMONG THE EXEMPLARY British poet-soldiers of the Great War, Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves, and Edmund Blunden were also memoirists.

Why is ww1 poetry so important? ›

Poetry seemed a natural outlet for the intense emotions generated by the war and its range challenges the concept that only those with direct experience of fighting, i.e. soldiers, were allowed to write about war. The Great War was a total war and no one was left untouched by it.

Which of the following was a war poet? ›

The war poetry of Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Isaac Rosenberg, Edmund Blunden, Robert Graves, Edward Thomas and Ivor Gurney among others, marks a transition in English cultural history.

Who coined the term war poetry? ›

1 Answer. War poetry is a literary genre that developed during the period of the world wars. The term was coined by Randall Jarrell in his essay “The Literature of War” (1961). Jarrell defines war poetry as “a poem that has as its theme war and that is written during or about a war”.

What is an apocalyptic poem? ›

apocalyptic literature, literary genre that foretells supernaturally inspired cataclysmic events that will transpire at the end of the world.

Who won in ww1? ›

The war pitted the Central Powers—mainly Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey—against the Allies—mainly France, Great Britain, Russia, Italy, Japan, and, from 1917, the United States. It ended with the defeat of the Central Powers.

What are the themes of war? ›

The Wars Themes
  • Trauma and War. As a work of postmodern literature, The Wars is characteristically disorienting. ...
  • Blame, Revenge, and Justice. ...
  • Loss of Innocence. ...
  • Honor, Duty, and Heroism.
May 10, 2019

What is trench poetry? ›

During World War I, a genre of poetry emerged from the front lines termed “Trench Poetry.” It was inspired by the soldiers' daily life on the front, especially the constant witnessing and interacting with horrifying scenes.

What type of poems are war poems? ›

There is patriotic poetry, which honors the sacrifice and bravery of the soldiers who fight for their country. Anti-war poetry sees no glory in war but only destruction and suffering. Witness poetry is written by those who experience the effects of war first hand but are not participants in the fighting.

What is the most popular form of poetry used in the war poetry? ›

Elegy. Elegy (Poetry Foundation, n.d.)

What is war poetry in English literature? ›

War poetry is a literary genre originated during war time when hundreds of soldiers, and also civilians caught up in conflict, started to write poetry as a way of striving to express extreme emotion at the very edge of experience.

What is anti-war poem? ›

the poem which is related to peace and (shanti)


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