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Landmark poems of the last century

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Far from being elitist, poetry in the last 100 years has been defined by an urgent desire to communicate. Here are five poems that each illuminate their age

For too long, poetry has had a reputation for being overly difficult, elitist and obscure. Yet it seems to me that nothing could be further from the truth. The poets of the last 100 years have been motivated by an urgent desire to communicate new ideas, and to recover ancient wisdom lost in the hubbub of modernity. As old orthodoxies faded, they found ways to make sense of the noise of time, transforming it into a new and unexpected music. Here are five landmark poems, including one from this year, that tell us something about their age.

Siegfried Sassoon,‘Everyone Sang’ (1919)

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