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“The Pity of War” Lecture Series: C.D. Blanton on Wilfred Owen and the “War Poets”

April 5, 2016 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Photo of Wilfred Owen imposed over a handwritten poem

wilfredowenThe story of World War I has been most vividly told by its poets, in particular the “war poets” who served in the trenches, among them Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves, Rupert Brooke, and perhaps most notably Wilfred Owen. UC Berkeley professor of English C.D. Blanton will discuss the poetry of the War Requiem and the importance of the WWI “War Poets” to modern poetry. In writing his War Requiem—a response to the devastation of World War II—Britten drew from Wilfred Owen’s poems, written primarily in the final year of World War I, before Owen’s death during the last week of the war. Owen wrote:

“I am not concerned with Poetry. My subject is War, and the pity of War. . . . All a poet can do today is warn. That is why the true Poets must be truthful.”

About the Series

“The Pity of War”: Benjamin Britten, Wilfred Owen, and the War Requiem

In June 2016, the Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra will perform Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. Written for the reconsecration of Coventry Cathedral in England in 1962, which was destroyed in WWII, it is a statement of Britten’s anti-war convictions. This masterwork of twentieth century music intersperses the poetry of WWI soldier Wilfred Owen, killed a week before the armistice, with the traditional Latin Mass for the Dead.

The War Requiem is an audacious undertaking for a community chorus, requiring a large chorus, a children’s chorus, two orchestras, and three soloists. But who better to sing this massive anti-war piece than a community chorus in Berkeley?

BCCO will perform the War Requiem on June 3, 4, and 5 at Hertz Hall on the Cal campus. But in the months leading up to the concerts, BCCO is sponsoring a number of free readings, lectures and workshops for the community that explore the history, music, poetry and themes presented by this powerful work. This series of talks at the library will present three experts on WWI, Britten’s life and music, and Owen’s poetry; the fourth session will introduce you to local poets writing about war and the search for peace.


April 5, 2016
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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Berkeley Public Library
2090 Kittredge St,
Berkeley, CA 94704 United States
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