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Not One, But Two Years of WWrite in Review! January 2017 - January 2019.


Part 4: Women Writing WWI


Women in WWIWomen in WWI. Image credit: World War One Centennial Commission

Over 22,000 American women served as nurses during WWI. The Navy and Marines accepted 13,000 women into active duty. Thousands have written about their experience, which has inspired contemporary women scholars and writers to explore the war through research and art. This is the 4th installment of the series, “WWrite Blog: Two Years in Review of WWI and Writing,” that will document and synthesize the 100+ blog contributions from January 2017. This week features posts about women's incredible involvement in WWI as fighters and writers. 

The first section, "Women in WWI: Nurses, Fighters, Writers," lists posts about women who served in WWI or lived during the WWI period. The second section, "Women's Art, Scholarship, and Writing about WWI," lists posts by women who have devoted their scholarship, writing, or art to WWI.


1.Women in WWI: Nurses, Fighters, Writers


Margaret Thomas Buchholz “Josephine: Government Girl, 1918”



This WWrite blog features writing by Josephine Lehman Thomas, a “government girl” in Washington DC during World War I: a determinedly modern young woman who relished the wartime excitement of the nation's capital – with its soldiers, movie stars, and international celebrities. She kept a detailed diary from 1917 until the late twenties, when she was a researcher and ghostwriter for Lowell Thomas. A lively record of city life at during WWI in the US provided by Thomas' daughter, Margaret Thomas Buchholz!


Hélène Lam Trong Josephine H.: A French-Vietnamese Journalist Traces the Life of an American Nurse



Several years ago, a French boy found an engraved bracelet in the French village of Rimaucourt, in the Haute-Marne region. It belonged to Josephine Heffernan, an American woman who had served as a nurse during WWI. But no one could find a trace of her life or her death. A Rimaucourt woman contacted French journalist and director, Hélène Lam Trong, and asked her to investigate. This was the beginning of Lam Trong's film, JosephineH., which follows Rimaucourt residents and American nurses on their long journey to uncover the bracelet owner's identity. The documentary will air on major French television. From a French-Vietnamese perspective, Lam Trong shares her thoughts on WWI, Vietnam, and engaging with American history.


Susan Werbe "Letters That You Will Not Get: Women’s Voices from the Great War"



WWICC featured Werbe for her 2014 TheGreat War Theatre Project: Messengers of a Bitter Truth, a multi-media theatre piece. It has evolved now to include music as a way of introducing women’s writings. Werbe talks about her latest piece, Letters that you Will Not Get: Women’s Voices from The GreatWar, a song cycle based on women’s writings from both sides of the conflict and set to contemporary music. Read this moving post about the premiere performance in New York.


Jennifer Orth-Veillon “2 Nurses Writing From No Man’s Land: Mary Borden’s Forbidden Zone and Ellen Lamotte’s Backwash of War”



This WWrite post features 2 WWI censored written works. Jennifer Orth-Veillon, the WWrite blog curator, discussed two extraordinary books by Army nurses: Ellen N. Lamotte's The Backwash of War and Mary Borden's The Forbidden Zone.


“The Loneliest Hour – Vera Brittain”


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“When the great war broke out,” Vera Brittain writes in her memoir, Testament of Youth, “it came to me not as a superlative tragedy but as an interruption of the most exasperating kind to my personal plans.” This WWrite blog post takes a look at Brittain's disembarkment from post-Victorian ladyhood to WWI field nurse, where she discovers not only the horrors of war tragedy but also the power of feminism. 


“On a Boat Alone: African American Wives Post WWI” 


Pilgrim at Suresnes July 26 1930

WWrite Blog Curator, Jennifer Orth-Veillon Ph.D., offers her post entitled "On A Boat Alone," as she talks about her own writing and discusses the "Gold Star Pilgrimage," a U.S.-government sponsored program that brought wives to burial sites and battlegrounds in Europe post-WWI. She focuses on the African American women who took these trips and discovered equality, not in their own country, but on the other side of the ocean. 


“The Colored Man is No Slacker – WWI Poems by the Peters Sisters”



 "The Colored Man is No Slacker." In 1919, this slogan on a WWI-era poster inspired two young African American sisters from West Virginia to write and publish a book of poems whose sole intention, they wrote, was "to show the Negro’s loyalty to the stars and stripes in the war with Germany and to show the need of unity of all men in the fight for democracy."


Peter Molin “Aline Kilmer: When the WWI Poet’s Wife is a War Poet Too”



Are war wives war poets, too? Can we consider those women who write about the contortions on domestic life and feminine sensibility wrought by war as veteran writers? Author, veteran, and teacher, Peter Molin, explores the question in a post about poet Aline Murray Kilmer, wife of well-known American WWI poet, Joyce Kilmer, who was killed during the Second Battle of the Marne in 1918. Throughout Joyce's deployment and then after his death, the words of Aline's poetry, in ambiguous ways, convey the urgency and nuance of a war wife's uncertainty as she finds her tranquility and self-worth vexingly dependent on her husband, even in his permanent absence. 


MAJ Jasmine Motupalli Walker “Historically-Influenced Path: Iraq and Afghanistan Through Ida B. Wells’ Fight”



Black History Month gave the WWrite blog the opportunity to showcase African American writers and artists inspired by WWI.  Major Jasmine Motupalli, Assistant Professor of Engineering at West Point, and Iraq and Afghanistan War veteran, reflected upon the roles of African American women during WWI, especially the actions of journalist, activist, and suffragist, Ida B. Wells. Major Motupalli also shared part of her memoir in progress about her experience in Afghanistan as an intelligence officer.


Tracy Crow “U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Tracy Crow Writes About Female Marine Sergeant Lela Leibrand (Ginger Rogers’ Mother!)”


This post features U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Writer, Tracy Crow, author of the critically-acclaimed memoir, Eyes Right: Confessions from a Woman Marine, as well as the breakthrough books On Point: A Guide to Writing the Military Story, the anthology, Red, White, and True: Stories from Veterans and Families, WWII to Present, and Cooper’s Hawk: The Remembering. In July 2017, she, along with co-editor Jerri Bell, will released the anthology, It's My Country Too: Women's Military Stories from the American Revolution to Afghanistan.  Crow discusses WWI Female Marine Sergeant Lela Leibrand, one of the first 10 women to join the Marine Corps. Leibrand was also mother to star Ginger Rogers.


Jerri Bell “WWI Navy Yeoman (F), First Class Marjory Stoneman Douglas: Writing Advice, Writing Life”


Navy veteran and writer, Jerri Bell, discusses the dynamic career of female WWI veteran, Marjory Stone Douglas. Bell, co-editor of the anthology, It's My Country Too: Women's Military Stories from the American Revolution to Afghanistan introduces the undiscovered richness of Douglas' long life (she died at 108!) as a prolific writer, Naval servicewoman in WWI, and political and environmental activist. A great story.


Kayla Williams “Equal Pay, Equal Benefits: Loretta Perfectus Walsh, the First Enlisted Woman in the U.S. Military”


When Kayla Williams, veteran of the Iraq War and author of Love My Rifle More Than You, enlisted in the Army in 2000, her pay was identical to that of all other service members with my same rank and time in service. It did not occur to her at the time that this not only put the military in stark contrast to many other career fields but was also the result of trailblazing women who paved the way for the rest of women. Loretta Perfectus Walsh, a chief Yeoman in WWI, was the first. Not the first woman to fight on behalf of America – that honor dates all the way back to the Revolutionary War – but the first to officially enlist, as a woman, earning equal pay and benefits. Earlier, women served either alongside their husbands or disguised as men (in an era of... more relaxed entrance examinations!). Later, they could serve in one of the Nurse Corps – but without equal pay, benefits, and rank. 


2. Women's Art, Scholarship, and Writing about WWI


Patricia Hammond “Soon, All Too Soon: British Musicians Bring Life and Melody to Exhumed Body of WWI German Soldier Ernst Brockman”



When British musicians Patricia Hammond and Matt Redman found and performed German sheet music written by a soldier killed in Verdun, they had no idea the song, "Soon, Too Soon," would also lead to the discovery of the composer's body, which had been buried in an unmarked grave in France's Meuse-Argonne region. Read about the captivating hunt for a man behind a melody.


Connie Ruzich “Raindrops on Your Old Tin Hat: Lt. John Hunter Wickersham – a Lost Voice, a Faded Poem”


Wickersham photo on homepages

This post brings a writer who has made it her life project to retrieve the lost poems of WWI. Connie Ruzich, a Fulbright Scholar and author of the extensive, impressive WWI poetry site, Behind Their Lines  ( presents the only WWI soldier who was both a poet and a Congressional Medal of Honor Winner: Lt. John Hunter Wickersham


“Their Only Crime: African American Poet, James Seaman Cotter, Jr.”



“A monster... of war and not of war..." is how James Seamon Cotter Jr. describes the genocide and racism that make up an important part of WWI's history and memory in his poem "O, Little David, Play on Your Harp": the Armenian Genocide, Russian pogroms, the Belgian atrocities, the deadly prejudice against African Americans. WWI poetry specialist, Connie Ruzich discusses Cotter, a forerunner of the African American cultural renaissance of the 1920s, and his vision of the world during the Great War.


In a Lonely Forest: Josef Rust Found Connie Ruzich Uncovers Lyricist for Ernst Brockman's "Soon, All Too Soon"



WWICC and WWrite have shared Patricia Hammond’s story of the haunting WWI song, "Soon, all too soon," by Ernst Brockman and the search that led to the identification of the forgotten composer’s body.  But what of the song’s lyricist, Josef Rust? In this week's post,"In a Lonely Forest,' amateur detective and WWI poetry expert, Connie Ruzich, talks about her quest to find Rust, a journey that led her to uncover another great WWI writer. 


Sgt. Frank Carbaugh’s 1918 poem, “Fields of the Marne”


Frank Carbaugh photo

In August 1918, the tide started to turn towards the end ofWWI and so did the subject of WWI poetry. While American Sgt. Frank Carbaugh didn't live to see theArmistice, he immortalized his vision of democracy and peace in his poem "The Fields of the Marne," written while he was in the hospital and published in The Stars and Stripes close to his death. This week, WWI poetry expert, Connie Ruzich, returns to WWrite to tell us the story of this brave soldier and unknown poet.


  1918. The Peace Christmas.


Christmas in ruins of Rheims Cathedral 1918

During the last two years of the WWI Centennial, Connie Ruzich and her blog, Behind Their Lines, which shares lesser-known poetry of the First World War, have generously teamed up with WWrite with timely posts. Ruzich excels at drawing the past and present together by linking current events with pivotal moments from 1914-1918. Her archival work into the lost poetic voices of WWI has served as an incredible resource, providing discussion and research on international lost voices, poems written by those on the home front, and poetry that has been neglected in modern anthologies. 

In 2020, Ruzich will go from digital to print as she publishes her anthology, International Poetry of World War I: An Anthology of Lost Voices, with Bloomsbury Academic Press. This week, we have come together once more and WWrite has the pleasure of featuring her important post on a VAD nurse on duty in France, who writes of Christmas, 1918," the "Peace Christmas." Read this powerful post that discusses the soldiers remaining on overseas duty and the devastated countryside "feeling for her frozen heart."


Lorie Vanchena “Beyond Friend or Foe: WWI Immigrant Poetry, a Digital Humanities Project”


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Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures Associate Professor, Lorie A. Vanchena, discusses  WWI American Immigrant Poetry: A Digital HumanitiesProject, an impressive and original project about WWI American poetry. The poems are written in response to World War I by immigrants in the United States and constitute a broad range of commentary on the war—for, against, and much more.


Susan Werbe “A Journey of Commemoration: The Great War Through the Lens of Art”“A Journey of Commemoration: The Great War Through the Lens of Art”



This WWrite post comes from Susan Werbe, the executive producer of the The Great War Theatre Project: Messengers of a Bitter Truth, performed in Boston, New York, and Letchworth (UK). Werbe discusses the process of weaving voice, dance, theatre, writings, and song cycles to examine the collective memory of war on the individual. She also talks about her latest project, Letters You Will Not Get, a libretto, using various genres of women's WWI writing, set to commissioned contemporary music. A wonderful showcase of an extraordinary, multidisciplinary project.


Stéphanie Trouillard “Journalist Tweets WWI to French Youth. Plus! Her Exclusive Twitter Feed From Bastille Day in Paris”


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"Who says World War I doesn't interest the youth of today?" With over 12,000 people following her blog and Twitter feed, this is the question leading a young French journalist's work that strives to give a fresh face to WWI using social media. For this WWrite post, France24's Stéphanie Trouillard tells us about her personal and professional passions driving her innovative historical writing project. And a special bonus! She's shared part of her Twitter feed from Bastille Day in Paris, where she covered President Trump meeting French President Emmanuel Macron to commemorate the centenary of the United States' entry in WWI. 


WWI Soldiers From the French Colonies: "They took part in the history of France" A Webdocumentary Gives Voice to the Forgotten on the French Riviera



An American snapshot of the French Riviera post-WWI: the sparkling turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea, the dry perfume of parasol pines, chilled white wine, the Lost Generation, jazz... Few know the famous "Côte d'Azur" was also the place where thousands of soldiers from French colonies –Senegal, Indochina, Madagascar–died in military hospitals from their battle wounds. French journalist, Stéphanie Trouillard, returns to WWrite to write about her webdocumentary on the memorial and cemetery built in their honor.


Audrey Coleman “Archive Fellow for Armenian Advocacy”


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It is hard to believe that as barbarous battles raged on the Western and Eastern Fronts, another, different human atrocity was committed by Ottoman authorities and Young Turks around the geographical region of modern-day Turkey: the Armenian Genocide. To better understand the Armenian Genocide and its place in WWI better, The Robert and Elizabeth Dole Archive & Special Collections at the Dole Institute of Politics, the University of Kansas in Lawrence, is pleased to announce a special fellowship opportunity for the 2017-2018 programming year: the  Archival Fellow for Armenian advocacy. 


Marsha Dubrow “Champagne, ‘champagne,’ and WWI”


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This post is for literature, history, and, yes, champagne lovers. Motivation for weary WWI soldiers? Champagne. In 1915, the French government voted to send "champagne," the bubbly, celebratory drink, as a morale booster to troops. Meanwhile, Champagne, the French region and source of the world's most elegant wine symbolizing celebration and peace, amassed severe wounds as a strategic point on Western Front. Don't miss this well-researched, insightful post about the region and its signature drink during WWI by journalist, Marsha Dubrow. Cheers!


Shannon Huffman Polson “What the Mountains Hold: A Writer’s Trek Through the Dolomites of Mark Helprin’s WWI Italy”



This WWrite post brings a fresh face to the WWI Italy described in  Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms. Author and veteran, Shannon Huffman Polson, takes us on a spellbinding trek through the Dolomites, where 689,000 Italians perished during the war. Following the footsteps of characters from Mark Helprin's novel, Polson's beautiful prose leads us through the stark, striking landscape of one of Italian history's most indelible memories.


Sarah Biegelsen “Forgetting to Remember: Making America’s Great War Monumental Again”


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The ground breaks. As the new WWI Memorial materializes in D.C., it's fascinating to take a look at other war memorials and the narrative of their construction. Reading the "story" of the ways memorials are conceived plays an important role in the understanding of public, cultural memory. Delve into the subject this week with WWrite's blog post,"Forgetting to Remember: MakingAmerica's Great War Monumental Again," by WW1CC intern, Sarah Biegelsen. This is a fascinating tour of some of America's interesting WWI monuments...and their stories.


Jane Satterfield "Yoga and Animals: Inspiration for WWI Poetry"


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This post features the inspired poetry of Jane Satterfield, whose father is a Desert Storm veteran. Satterfield’s poetry and prose have appeared in American Poetry Review, Antioch Review, The Common, Crazyhorse, North American Review, Notre Dame Review, Pleiades, and many more, as well as on Verse Daily and Poetry Daily. The daughter of an American airman and a British mother, she grew up near Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Maryland.


Simone Zelitch “The Balfour Declaration: An Alternative History”


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What if there had been no Balfour Declaration? What would the alternative history look like? These are questions that writer, Simone Zelitch, author of the novel, Judenstaat, explores in this week's WWrite blog. A fascinating glimpse at a new past...


Faleeha Hassan "Have You Ever Tried to Write a War Poem?"


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Have you ever tried to write a war poem? This was Faleeha Hassan’s question for WWrite. This Iraqi-American poet and war refugee shows it’s no different for her than it was for the poets of WWI. Don’t miss this eye-opening, startling post about the process of writing war poetry.


Cathy Caruth "A New Kind of Dream: Freud, Trauma, and WWI"


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WWI helped psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud, revolutionize his understanding of dreams. By analyzing the dreams of WWI combat veterans, he gained insight about what happens to the unconscious, invisible wounds of war during sleep.  Through the work of literary theorist, Cathy Caruth, WWrite looks at WWI's early investigations into what we call today, PTSD


Ruth Edgett "Hill 145"


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New WWI fiction! How has agony been rendered so gracefully? This is the question asked by the narrator in Ruth Edgett's short story, “Hill 145,” as he gazes up at a WWI memorial. "Hill 145,” the winner of Consequence Magazine's 2017 Prize in Fiction, brings us to 1936 as Canadian WWI veterans return to the French battleground that cost their country 3,598 lives. This week, WWrite features "Hill 145," a story that illuminates the ways war veterans are “well-practiced at moving between worlds” when reconciling their soldiering pasts and civilian presents. 


"The Enemy You Killed"


Soldatenfriedhof Bunker

What happens when a past enemy has become a modern ally?  This week, Ruth Edgett gives another perspective on German mourning as she takes us to a German cemetery in France near Vimy Ridge where her Canadian grandfather fought with the Allies in 1917. In this post, Edgett provides a non-fiction behind-the-scenes look at her short story inspired by her grandfather's experience, "Hill 145," which won the 2017 Consequence Magazine "Women Writing War" Prize in Fiction and was featured at WWrite this June. Read "The Enemy You Killed," a moving post about Germany's place among the Allied war dead.


Andria Williams "Black Poppies: Writing About Britain’s Black Servicemen"


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"The First World War is usually viewed as a predominantly white conflict," writes historian Stephen Bourne in his book Black Poppies: Britain's Black Community and the Great War. Writer Andria Williams found this to be true as she began research for her next novel featuring a WWI black British soldier. This week at WWrite, Williams shares her exploration into this little-known aspect of WWI history that she aims to bring to light in her fictional work. A military spouse, Williams is the author of The Longest Night, a scintillating debut novel about a young couple whose marriage is tested when they move to an army base rife with love triangles, life-or-death conflicts, and a dramatic cover-up. Read this unique post about navigating between historical facts and the creative craft of writing fiction.


Panthea Reid  “Faulkner Stole My Father’s War Wound.” Centennial Reflections on William Faulkner and John Reid. PART 1


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Panthea Reid, Professor Emerita of English at LSU, made a startling discovery while writing her book on William Faulkner. Faulkner, who received the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature, had claimed that he was wounded while serving in the British Royal Flying Corps during WWI. Not only did Professor Reid debunk these claims with archival research; she also learned that Faulkner had confiscated the record of her own father's WWI wound and claimed the story for himself. Read the first part of "Centennial Reflections on William Faulkner and John Reid,"  a surprising literary detective story.

“Faulkner Stole My Father’s War Wound.” Centennial Reflections on William Faulkner and John Reid. PART 2  

Faulkner, Part 2! WWrite brings the sequel to the first post by Professor Panthea Reid about her startling discovery while writing her book on William Faulkner. Faulkner, who received the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature, had claimed that he was wounded while serving in the British Royal Flying Corps during WWI. Not only did Professor Reiddebunk these claims with archival research; she also learned that Faulkner had confiscated the record of her own father's WWI wound and claimed the story for himself. Read "Centennial Reflections on William Faulkner and John Reid, Part 2," which reveals the riveting details about the rest of this incredible literary detective story and the justice Reid sought for her father.


 Rachel Kambury "War Without Allegory: WWI, Tolkien, and The Lord of the Rings"


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Why, in all the years since its publication in 1954, has J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic, The Lord of the Rings, never found its way onto any “Best-Of” lists of war literature? Why, in spite of the overwhelming number of parallels, has it never counted among the greatest novels to emerge from the events of World War I? Rachel Kambury, a publishing professional specializing in war and literature and military history, argues that The Lord of the Rings is not allegory but war story in its own right. 


Felicita Hamilton Trueblood "Holding Onto the Silver Greyhounds' Tail"


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In August 1918, Captain Wallace F. Hamilton was plucked from the Front to help lead the Silver Greyhounds, the first Overseas Courier Service, in Paris. He made drawings and wrote a memoir of his experience, but part of this material was stolen from the family's archive in 1972. In 2008, Hamilton's daughter, Felicita Trueblood, went on an incredible quest to recover the lost items and then decided to publish the manuscript and the images. "Holding Onto the SilverGreyhounds' Tail" is about Trueblood's journey to reveal both the little-known story about the courier service and the story of her father's WWI artistic life.


 Anna Rindfleisch "Mediated Memory, Myth, and Legend: The Christmas Truce of 1914 and the Great War in Modern Thought"


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Mediated memory is a term that means representations of the past that are transmitted through modern media and affect the construction of personal and/or collective memory. English Research Historian and social media expert, Anna Rindfleisch, discusses this concept in the context of WWI through an analysis of a British Sainsbury's advertisement featuring the 1914 Christmas Truce. In her post, she explains that the massive outpouring of social media postings and institutional centenary events over the past four years suggest that the 100-year-old trauma attached to the iconic image of the Front Soldier has been transmitted down generations and shaped our contemporary understanding of the Great War.



Jennifer Orth-Veillon The Debt of WWII French Resistance Writers to WWI Veterans, Part 1: Albert Camus


Many French writers who took part in WWI Resistance, known as "The Army of Shadows," did so because they felt they owed a debt to the veterans of WWI. The fighters of the Great War included Jews, Communists, and men from the colonies, all of whom became victims of Nazism in the France they had defended just twenty years prior. This week, WWrite starts the first in a series about WWII writer-resisters like Victor Basch, Albert Camus, Jean Moulin, and Louis Aragon and the ways their written work and their battle against the Nazis were inspired by the sacrifices of WWI soldiers.  


The Debt of WWII French Resistance Writers to WWI Veterans, Part 2: Jean Moulin


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This post is the second in a WWrite series on the debt of WWII French Resistance Writers to WWI Veterans. Last week, the blog featured resister Albert Camus and the influence of his father, a WWI soldier who died at the Battle of the Marne. This week, WWrite explores the most famous French Resistance icon, Jean Moulin. One of France's most celebrated WWII heroes began his fight in WWI as a soldier and an artist. The experience, which he discusses in his book, First Combat, shaped his rise as the leader of France's Resistance Army, also known as the "Army of Shadows." 

“The Break of Day: Isaac Rosenberg”



“Dawn has never recovered from what the Great War did to it,” writes Paul Fussell in The Great War and Modern Memory. This week's post explores the unprecedented notions of dawn in the WWI poetry of British soldier, Isaac Rosenberg, who died on Easter Sunday, 1918. Dawn, an almost-universal symbol for renewal, became one of the most painful times of day for soldiers in the trenches because it revealed the reality of the nightmares that battle brought them in the dark.