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In this time of nationalism and bombast, the works of the war poets cut through – and remind us of our shared humanity There is so much fixation on the poppy as a symbol of remembrance these days that it seems almost forgotten that there can be other ways to pay tribute to those lost in war. A red poppy – which can now be obtained in various sizes and at various levels of bling – is an outward display, a signal to others that you care in the correct fashion. Over the past few years, what was once a humble paper token has become, for some people at least, a way of sniffing out patriot from traitor. Satirical Twitter account Poppy Watch collates the most bizarre examples: pepperoni poppies on pizzas, Halloween pumpkins carved with poppies, poppy onesies. In contrast, the quiet contemplation of poetry as we approach the centenary of the armistice is not quite so showy. Barely anyone knows you’re doing it, and it arguably requires a tad more mental energy, and certainly a greater degree of empathy. But for those of us who have not been feeling especially patriotic of late, it provides the ideal form of remembrance. The ambivalence of the first world war poets towards empire and conflict is worth reflecting on at a time when bombastic, bellicose rhetoric is being adopted once again by our politicians. Continue reading...