The nineteenth century was impossible to revoke because it was swept away in a tide of mud and blood with the coming of World War I. “The Great War” lasted from 1914 through 1918. More than eight million soldiers lost their lives in the struggle between the Central Powers and the Allies. The old ideals of warfare fought by aristocrats and gentlemen vanished beneath gas attacks, trench warfare, and heavy artillery bombardments. Enlisted men would spend weeks in the most unbearable trenches of the front line. These trenches were the most treacherous place to be in the war. Many of the soldiers suffered from trench foot, starvation, dysentery, shell shock, and body lice and if these didn’t get to them the mortar and gas attacks were sure to. World War I posters attracted men to enlist pledging honor, duty, and camaraderie, going back to the Latin saying that it is sweet and honorable to die for one’s country. This encouraged many soldiers to put their emotions and 'the real truth' onto paper.
Writing has always been a tool for reflecting and commenting on society. During the 20th century many poets reacted to problems in the world with highly emotionally charged poems. The horror of war and the spiritual degradation it inflicts is evident in the work of the World War I poets. Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon were both soldiers and poets. Their poems reflect the loss of innocence and the horrible mental and physical toll World War I inflicted on the world.