Before the semester is over…

What was your favorite piece we read this semester? Why?

Or, what is something you didn’t expect to learn in this class, but did?

Or! What was the most shocking thing we talked about, read, or found this semester?

Some Post-WWI Music About WWI

I found this interesting article that details some music written about WWI. You all can read yourselves, so I just hyperlinked the article (it’s like a one minute read and worth checking out), but I’ve compiled all the music into a Spotify playlist (plus I’ve added some of the more interesting music videos). Check it out!

ALSO: Because my ego is fragile and I like to think I have a good taste in music–this isn’t generally the music I like to listen to, but I think it’s important to hear these songs and see how other people interpret the Great War.

  • Pipe of Peace by Paul McCartney

  • On Battleship Hill by PJ Harvey

  •  Going Home by Randy Newman

(This isn’t a video…duh…but here’s a cool quote from Newman on the song).

“This is a World War I song. World War I fascinates me because it was such a shock to the world. Nothing before or since has come close. It was a horrible, horrible event. It was modern weaponry and cavalry and then tanks. They fought for four years over a hundred yards, some ridiculously small amount of ground.  It’s the stupidest event in history. This is one of those songs that I just can’t sing – it’s right in one of the cracks in my range. So we did it to approximate what a recording of that era would sound like. I know Mitchell’s going to get blamed in some review for using all these effects, but we did it because I simply can’t sing the thing.”

The long awaited Spotify playlist with all of the songs:

Symbolism of Flowers in Poetry

For the poems we have for tomorrow, one, in particular, caught my attention: “Tri-colour” by Robert Service. Not knowing if we will talk about it tomorrow, and also knowing myself and the high probability that I will forget by the time tomorrow comes, I thought I would put a little something here on the blog.

I am hugely into the symbolism of flowers and elements in literary works! Every element and every flower has a meaning and I think that poets and writers know this too and pick which ones they use very meticulously.

In “Tri-colour” we get the poppies, the cornflowers, and the lilies.

We’ve talked about poppies before and how they are symbolic of the war. Jordan even made a separate blog post earlier in the semester about the art installation of poppies (which I conveniently linked here, so if you haven’t seen it, go look at it!) I’m sure you all know what a poppy looks like but here is a picture just in case. It is obvious why Service uses the poppies as the soldier’s blood. Poppies are symbolic of sleep, especially deep sleep, which if any of you have seen the Wizard of Oz you should be familiar with the poppy field scene. Poppies, because of both WWI and WWII are now considered the flower of death and remembrance. Also, poppies have a meaning of innocence and peace within death which is why poppies use to be used at funerals, including funerals for soldiers.


Then there are the cornflowers. I love cornflowers! They are these really cool blue-purple flowers that remind me of the flowers in Horton Hears A Who (yes I know it is actually a clover, but it’s all the same). Many people will recognize cornflowers from the sides of country roads or in wildflower fields. Cornflowers are one of the national flowers of Germany, which if you think about Germany in the context of the war is kind of crazy. While the meaning of cornflowers don’t really line up with how I think they are being used in this poem, it is still super interesting. Cornflowers are the flowers of wealth, prosperity, fortune, friendship, but in France, cornflowers became the symbol for the Armistice.
Next are lilies. Now, the thing with flowers is each color,  or variant, of them, stand for something else and lilies come in different colors.  So white lilies symbolize purity and chastity and are linked to the Virgin Mary, while other’s are linked to friendship, devotion, sympathy, wealth and prosperity. While the poem never specifies which color of lily is being talked there is a generic symbol for restored innocence after death, which is why lilies are known as a funeral flower.

I find it super interesting how each of the flowers relates to death in some way, how even the shapes and colors of them are used as images of dead men. The poppies as the blood, the cornflowers as eyeballs which I don’t think I can ever unsee now, and lilies as headstones.

Psychic Hemingway Anyone??

Can we also talk about how weird it was that Hemingway wrote in the 1929 version of A Farewell about the Japanese wanting to take control of Hawaii and then literally twelve years later Pearl Harbor happened? Am I missing something? Is this just some huge coincidence?

Another Hitler Tidbit

I always thought it was interesting that the main character of A Farewell is an American driving for the Italians. Recently, I found after watching a WWI documentary, another person we all have heard of had a similar WWI experience.

Hitler attempted to enlist in the Austrian army (the country of his citizenship) during WWI but failed the physical exam. In desperate attempts to enlist, Hitler requested to join the Bavarian army with special permission from Bavarian authorities.

So we have an American serving with the Italians and an Austrian serving with the Bavarians. The lengths some men go to enlist (but if we’re talking about Frederic Henry, just forget everything. He just happened into it).

The ‘Stache

Ever since someone posted about Hitler being involved in The Great War on the blog, I’ve been intrigued. I never knew (as much sense as it makes that he was) that he was involved much less that his experiences shaped some of the ways he could approach World War II.

In that earlier post on the blog, it was said that Hitler had been the victim of gas attacks and vowed not to use gas warfare in WW2 because of its devastating effects (ironic). Well, I was doing some further research on it and apparently the infamous mustache Hitler dons also resulted from gas warfare.

Apparently Hitler had sported the typical German style before the war of a long and thin facial hair above his upper lip and upon joining the war, was constructed to clip it into the infamous toothbrush shape in order to able to better fit into a gas mask.

Adolf Hitler, Hitler was ordered to trim his moustache

Historians came to the conclusion about this upon the publication of Alexander Moritz Frey’s biography who, according to an article done by The Telegraph, “came to know [Hitler] when both were lowly privates in a Bavarian infantry division.”


Later in the same article Frey is quoted further describing Hitler’s appearance saying,

“At that time he looked tall because he was so thin. A full moustache, which had to be trimmed later because of the new gas masks, covered the ugly slit of his mouth.”

It’s odd how far-reaching some of the effects of this war are. I went from not even knowing Hitler had been a part of the war to now seeing how such identifying stylistic choices were shaped by it.

Florence: The Schedule

Friends, the schedule has been updated on Canvas and HERE.

Image result for stethoscopeImage result for hurricane

“Alice in Wonderland” and World War 1

I’m not sure if any of you all noticed that on Dr. Scanlon’s first post introducing us all to the course and to the blog, she used a tag saying that the other class she is teaching is on “Alice in Wonderland” and to discuss that. Having had Dr. Scanlon’s Down the Rabbit Hole FSEM three years ago I knew that there had to be some type of connection between both “Alice” and the War in some way or else Dr. Scanlon wouldn’t have left that comment. 

When I say that this has bugged me since I saw it, I’m not lying! It bothered me since I saw that post that, being a veteran of Dr. Scanlon’s FSEM class, I could not immediately figure out how in the world these two very different things were connected. Since “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” was published in 1865 and “Through the Looking Glass” was published in 1871, I realized the connection couldn’t lie within the work or around when it was released into the world. This also being said, and along with his death in 1898, meant that Lewis Carroll was not this link between “Alice” and the war either.

Young Alice Liddell. I also believe this is a photo that Carroll took of Alice.

This is when it clicked with me: it had to be with Alice herself. Let me give you a little rundown. Alice Liddell, pronounced “Little”, and her sisters are said to have been the inspiration for these stories. Carroll even gave Alice one of the original copies of “Alice’s Adventures”. He was infatuated with her and their relationship was kind of strange, but that is a whole other topic (one of which is worth looking up). Alice Liddell was born in 1852 and died in 1934 which meant she was alive during World War 1

In 1880, Alice was married to Reginald Hargreaves and went on to have three sons with him: Leopold, Alan, and Caryl Hargreaves. All three of her sons went off to serve England in the war. However, both Alan and Leopold were killed in action–Alan in 1915 and Leopold in 1916. This was the connection factor, the link between “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and the war. It lied wit in Alice Liddell’s real-life adventures and sadness.

Alice’s sons: Leopold Reginald “Rex”, Alan, and Caryl.

I find it very interesting how a story we all consider a children’s story has branches that reach to something as destructive as war. A woman who’s youth inspired a story that still thrives today went on to face the devastation of losing two of her children during a war. Maybe this can be one of those things where we say “it’s such a small world!” or maybe this helps to show just how widespread the effect of the war actually was. I also really enjoyed how somehow a class I took freshman year has connections to one I am taking now as a senior. I hope this surprised you in some way or made you think about the possibilities of connections that can be made between life, literature, and the war. Also, if you know of some more information that I did not include in this post (sorry Dr. Scanlon if I missed something) please feel free to add to or reflect on this.