Born in New York City, Wyeth was educated at Princeton. The son of an ex-confederate soldier, doctor and poet, he began writing poetry at an early age: when he was 13 his poetic drama The Weaker Man was commissioned by the actor E.H. Sothern. During the First World War he served on the Western Front as Division Translator at the HQ of the 33rd Division of the American Expeditionary Force, and later with the Army of Occupation in Germany.
Wyeth’s literary importance rests solely on one book of poems, This Man’s Army: A War in Fifty-Odd Sonnets, published in 1928. This sonnet sequence chronicles the movements of an American troop division from receiving sailing orders and disembarkation in France through the battles across the Western Front.
Wyeth’s poetry was not only vividly realized: it was unique. Cunningly combining traditional form and modernist methods, realistic, narrative and imagistic lyricality, Wyeth was the missing man in the history of 20th-century American poetry – an important soldier-poet from the Great War. [Dana Gioia, quoted from The War Poetry of John Allan Wyeth Blog by Bradley Omanson]
Wyeth is a fantastic poet. If there is a better American soldier-poet of the First World War, I haven’t encountered him yet. [Tim Kendall]
John Allan Wyeth’s Poetry
Resources for John Allan Wyeth