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By Jeffrey Walsh (auth.)

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Probably Cowley's most effective war poem remains the much-revised 'Chateau de Soupir, 1917' which addresses itself to the impact of war upon a Poetic Language: First World War 35 French chateau. ) 'Chateau de Soupir, 1917' is partly concerned with the issue that motivates Alan Seeger in 'Champagne 1914-15', the destruction of high cultural artefacts. In this context the chateau has resonant metaphorical associations, later explored by William Eastlake in his novel Castle Keep (1966). Cowley in 'Chateau de Soupir, 1917' identifies and affirms the splendour of the castle which houses 'genuine Flemish tapestries', 'gilded doors' and other associated irreplaceable works of art.

Frequently this impulse towards recollection manifests itself in a single memorable poem such as Bishop's 'In the Dordogne' or MacLeish's 'Memorial Rain'. ) In fiction and drama written in the thirties, too, novelists reassessed the First World War. Paths of Glory (1935), Humphrey Cobb's novel dramatising the French army mutiny, is concerned with military disobedience, a theme earlier treated very differently by E. E. Cummings in The Enormous Room; Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun (1939) depicts in the figure of his womb-like vegetable, Johnny, the ultimate post-war communication crisis, a huge bandage attempting to send messages.

Chateau de Soupir, 1917' is partly concerned with the issue that motivates Alan Seeger in 'Champagne 1914-15', the destruction of high cultural artefacts. In this context the chateau has resonant metaphorical associations, later explored by William Eastlake in his novel Castle Keep (1966). Cowley in 'Chateau de Soupir, 1917' identifies and affirms the splendour of the castle which houses 'genuine Flemish tapestries', 'gilded doors' and other associated irreplaceable works of art. The narrator ofthe poem, slightly bewildered by what he sees, responds ambivalently to the mixture of fact and legend which forms the accessible history of the chateau: this opaqueness is shown in the way constant reference is made for reassurance to the conduit of 'Jean's' opinions.

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