The dark cloud of war creeps slowly over Europe's mainland bearing with it the misery, suffering, and grief of millions of people all over the globe. Like a tidal wave of death lurking from Germany to France, the war extended all the way to the Siberian winters of Russia. With dreams of heroism and conquest, hundreds of thousands of young men scrambled aboard the ships and trains headed for central Europe. With the image of honorably fighting and even dying for their countries these men all stumbled onto battlefields never considering the atrocities that would pursue. This war claimed more lives than any other war in the history of the world and introduced the misery of spending day after day in muddy-reeking trenches, retreat through heavy artillery assault, and chemical warfare.
The unimaginably misery of the war was introduced in the first two lines of this poem. "Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed and coughing like hags, we cursed through the sludge".
The torture of not being able to move forward or withdrawal but to simply sit and wait in cold and hunger must have been intolerable. Enough to drive men to the brink of insanity. Perhaps even pushing them over the edge. Simply sitting in these trenches, not knowing if you would be the next to be sniped down or hit by a well placed "five-nine" could very well be the most unnerving part of the war.
Shortly following the trenches you are taken into the panic filled world of retreat. "Till on haunting flares we turned our backs, And towards our distant rest began to trudge." I find it hard to imagine the feeling of bullets whizzing past my head, or the "hoots" of the artillery shells made as they hurled into the wet earth. What...