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Mentone Girls' Grammar School | Kerferd Library

War Poetry: Chinua Achebe

Year 10 English | Language [VCELA] Literature [VCELT]

Source: Four Canadian soldiers, sleeping and writing letters in the trenches near Willerval. (IWM, 2019). Insert image: Chinua Achebe. (Delsol, 1988).

Level 1 resource"The ‘war poet’ and ‘war poetry’, observed Robert Graves in 1942, were ‘terms first used in World War I and perhaps peculiar to it’. From Anglo-Saxon times to the Boer War, war poetry in English was written largely by civilians and did not have a clearly defined identity; with the extraordinary outpouring between 1914 and 1918, it established itself as a genre and the soldier-poet became a species." (Das, 2014)

Referencing Notice Don't forget to cite and reference your sources. For help see the Junior School or Senior School referencing guides, and / or CiteMaker.
Resource Key

When accessing content use the numbers below to guide you:

LEVEL

Brief, basic information laid out in an easy-to-read format. May use informal language. (Includes most news articles)

LEVEL

Provides additional background information and further reading. Introduces some subject-specific language.

Level 3 resourceLEVEL

Lengthy, detailed information. Frequently uses technical/subject-specific language. (Includes most analytical articles)

General Capabilities
Enduring Understandings
  • Students will understand that poetry is a deliberate form of language where structural and linguistic features combine to create meaning.
  • Students will understand that the poetry of war has a long tradition in literature.
  • Students will understand that meaning may change depending on the context, culture and linguistic understanding of the reader.
Essential Questions
  • How is poetry different to prose?
  • How can we create meaning with language?

Jump toJump to: Quick facts | Articles | eBooks | Poems

War Poetry | Chinua Achebe: Quick facts

Level 1Chinua Achebe (16 November 1930 – 21 March 2013)

War Poetry | Chinua Achebe: Articles

Level 2Articles

War Poetry | Chinua Achebe: eBooks

Level 2 resourceClick on the following book covers to place a hold in the library catalogue or access the book online. If prompted, sign in with your School mConnect user name and password.

War Poetry | Chinua Achebe: Poems

Using YouTube on campus help and instructions
In this section you will find the poem as well as online content that provides additional background information and literary criticism. Scroll down to see all the content.

Vultures

By Chinua Achebe

In the greyness
and drizzle of one despondent
dawn unstirred by harbingers
of sunbreak a vulture
perching high on broken
bones of a dead tree
nestled close to his
mate his smooth
bashed-in head, a pebble
on a stem rooted in
a dump of gross
feathers, inclined affectionately
to hers. Yesterday they picked
the eyes of a swollen
corpse in a water-logged
trench and ate the
things in its bowel. Full
gorged they chose their roost
keeping the hollowed remnant
in easy range of cold
telescopic eyes...

Strange
indeed how love in other
ways so particular
will pick a corner
in that charnel-house
tidy it and coil up there, perhaps
even fall asleep - her face
turned to the wall!

...Thus the Commandant at Belsen
Camp going home for
the day with fumes of
human roast clinging
rebelliously to his hairy
nostrils will stop
at the wayside sweet-shop
and pick up a chocolate
for his tender offspring
waiting at home for Daddy's
return...

Praise bounteous
providence if you will
that grants even an ogre
a tiny glow-worm
tenderness encapsulated
in icy caverns of a cruel
heart or else despair
for in the very germ
of that kindred love is
lodged the perpetuity
of evil.

 

Source: Achebe, C. (n.d.) Vultures. Retrieved from https://www.mahmag.org/english/worldpoetry.php?itemid=456

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