‘Fading Crimean Flowers’: Spasmodic Sonnets on the War


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In their refusal to aestheticise Crimean warfare, as most of their fellow poets and newspapermen had done, Sydney Dobell and Alexander Smith, in the co-authored Sonnets on the War (1855) present a harrowing a picture of the conflict from myriad viewpoints, all of which deny the patriotism and hawkishness implicit in glamorising armed conflict. This poly-vocalic collection pushes more boundaries than has previously been noticed. The choice of form, itself a commentary – this isn’t a war fit for epic – the emphasis on women’s roles, and the anonymous and ventriloquised voicing announce departures from conventions of martial verse, and also from what we have heretofore understood about these poets’ careers. 


Willett, Mischa. ‘Fading Crimean Flowers’: Spasmodic Sonnets on the War. Victoriographies, Jun 2018, vo. 8, No. 2 : pp. 135-150.