Edmund Blunden went to school at Christ’s Hospital near Horsham in West Sussex and gained the senior classics scholarship at Queen’s College, Oxford. He volunteered with the Royal Sussex Regiment after leaving school and crossed over to France in 1916. His initial reaction to going is recorded in the opening words of his autobiography, Undertones of War
I was not anxious to go. An uncertain but unceasing disquiet had been upon me, and when, returning to the officers’ mess at Shoreham Camp one Sunday evening, I read the notice that I was under orders for France, I did not hide my feelings.
At the end of the war, travelling by train across a landscape turning green with new growth, he wrote
The mercy of nature advances.
Blunden was the longest serving First World War poet and saw continuous action in the front line between 1916 and 1918. His life-long friend Siegfried Sassoon maintained that Blunden was the poet of the war most lastingly obsessed by it.
Edmund Blunden’s Poems:
Resources for Edmund Blunden
Edmund Blunden’s Undertones of War, edited by John Greening (Oxford University Pres, 2015, 9780198716617, £30.00) Offers not only the original unrevised version of the prose narrative ‘written at white heat when Blunden was teaching in Japan and had no access to his notes’ but also provides a great deal of supplementary material – prefaces, annotations and commentaries together with diary entries. Blunden had always hoped for an illustrated edition of the work and the editor, with the Blunden family’s help, has selected some of the best pictures which Blunden had kept with this end in view.
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