Hey I have a final project that needs a common theme for six poems I get to choose. There are always themes such as love, death, nature, and human nature, but I was wondering if anyone had any good ideas for a theme (using classical poets)
Matt, this is where the search feature here at E-mule comes in handy. Go to the "Classical Poets List" and type in your theme. For instance, you could type in "nature", or "love" which would give you several hits. Then you could read the poems that come up and see which theme fits your assignment best.
You can do the same thing using Google. Just type in "poems about nature", or "poems about love". As you can tell, if you use Google you will have to narrow your selection, or you will get far too many hits.
I admire your desire for something different than the average theme, however, I don't know what would interest you. Suicide? Food? How about cats? I suggest you skim down this borad, as most of the time people come here wanting poems for some strange theme. But, I would ask myslef, what sort of a poem would I want to read? However, having to stick with the classics limits you a little. Good luck.
'War' would be timely subject matter.
No shortage of candidates.
I recently did some searches for poems describing fashion, clothes (for a project i had to do) and found some interesting ones. I don't know if this is the kind of subject that interests you, but here are a few suggestions:
'Male Fashions for 1799" - Mary Robinson (1758-1800)
"Men and Women" - James Kenneth Stephen (1859-1892)
"A Courtin' Call" - Edmund Vance Cooke (1866-1932)
"Delight in Disorder"- Robert Herrick
"Skirt Machinist" - Lesbia Harford (1891-1927)
Taking up Jack's suggestion, and narrowing it to poems that strip war of any romance or glory, you could pick:
From the 19th century British India frontier wars, 'The Young British Soldier' by Rudyard Kipling (see the link to the Classical Poet List above)
From World War I, 'Anthem for Doomed Youth' and 'Dulce et Decorum Est' by Wilfred Owen (see that link), and
by Siegfried Sassoon
'Good-morning; good-morning!' the General said
When we met him last week on our way to the line.
Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of 'em dead,
And we're cursing his staff for incompetent swine.
'He's a cheery old card,' grunted Harry to Jack
As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack...
But he did for them both by his plan of attack.
From World War II, the following written at El Alamein by the distinguished Australian poet, Kenneth Slessor (1901-1970):
Softly and humbly to the Gulf of Arabs
The convoys of dead sailors come;
At night they sway and wander in the waters far under,
But morning rolls them in the foam.
Between the sob and clubbing of the gunfire
Someone, it seems, has time for this,
To pluck them from the shallows and bury them in burrows
And tread the sand upon their nakedness;
And each cross, the driven stake of tidewood,
Bears the last signature of men,
Written with such perplexity, with such bewildered pity,
The words choke as they begin -
'Unknown seaman' - the ghostly pencil
Wavers and fades, the purple drips,
The breath of the wet season has washed their inscriptions
As blue as drowned men's lips,
Dead seamen, gone in search of the same landfall,
Whether as enemies they fought,
Or fought with us, or neither; the sand joins them together,
Enlisted on the other front.
And from the Vietnam War, this famous poem by Australia's best-selling contemporary poet, Bruce Dawe (b.1930):
All day, day after day, they’re bringing them home,
they’re picking them up, those they can find, and bringing them home,
they’re bringing them in, piled on the hulls of Grants, in trucks, in convoys,
they’re zipping them in green plastic bags,
they’re tagging them now in Saigon, in the mortuary coolness
they’re giving them names, they’re rolling them out of
the deep-freeze lockers––on the tarmac at Tan Son Nhut
the noble jets are whining like hounds.
they are bringing them home
––curly-heads, kinky-hairs, crew-cuts, balding non-coms
––they’re high, now, high and higher, over the land, the steaming chow mein,
their shadows are tracing the blue curve of the Pacific
with sorrowful quick fingers, heading south, heading east,
home, home, home––and the coasts swing upward, the old ridiculous curvatures
of earth, the knuckled hills, the mangrove swamps, the desert emptiness. . .
in their sterile housing they tilt towards these like skiers
––taxiing in, on the long runways, the howl of their homecoming rises
surrounding them like their last moments (the mash, the splendour)
then fading at length as they move
on to small towns where dogs in the frozen sunset
raise muzzles in mute salute,
and on to cities in whose wide web of suburbs
telegrams tremble like leaves from a wintering tree
and the spider grief swings in his bitter geometry
––they’re bringing them home, now, too late, too early.
And for a song, you could do this one.
AND THE BAND PLAYED
When I was a young man I carried my pack
And I lived the free life of a rover
From the Murrays green basin to the dusty outback
I waltzed my Matilda all over
Then in nineteen fifteen my country said Son
It's time to stop rambling 'cause there's work to be done
So they gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun
And they sent me away to the war
And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As we sailed away from the quay
And amidst all the tears and the shouts and the cheers
We sailed off to Gallipoli
How well I remember that terrible day
How the blood stained the sand and the water
And how in that hell that they called Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter
Johnny Turk he was ready, he primed himself well
He chased us with bullets, he rained us with shells
And in five minutes flat he'd blown us all to hell
Nearly blew us right back to Australia
But the band played Waltzing Matilda
As we stopped to bury our slain
We buried ours and the Turks buried theirs
Then we started all over again
Now those that were left, well we tried to survive
In a mad world of blood, death and fire
And for ten weary weeks I kept myself alive
But around me the corpses piled higher
Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over tit
And when I woke up in my hospital bed
And saw what it had done, I wished I was dead
Never knew there were worse things than dying
For no more I'll go waltzing Matilda
All around the green bush far and near
For to hump tent and pegs, a man needs two legs
No more waltzing Matilda for me
So they collected the cripples, the wounded, the maimed
And they shipped us back home to Australia
The armless, the legless, the blind, the insane
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla
And as our ship pulled into Circular Quay
I looked at the place where my legs used to be
And thank Christ there was nobody waiting for me
To grieve and to mourn and to pity
And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As they carried us down the gangway
But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared
Then turned all their faces away
And now every April I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me
And I watch my old comrades, how proudly they march
Reliving old dreams of past glory
And the old men march slowly, all bent, stiff and sore
The forgotten heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask, "What are they marching for?"
And I ask myself the same question
And the band plays Waltzing Matilda
And the old men answer to the call
But year after year their numbers get fewer
Some day no one will march there at all
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me
And their ghosts may be heard as you pass the Billabong
Who'll come-a-waltzing Matilda with me?
You can hear it online here. [www.pogues.com] />