“Fair she braved War’s gaunt disease”: Edmund Blunden’s “The Festubert Shrine”

As you probably know, World War I began 100 years ago yesterday.

Today, here’s Edmund Blunden’s “The Festubert Shrine,” and old-fashioned sort of poem that features a few arresting images. It’s a glimpse of the war’s destruction of significant local sites, in this case a shrine to Mary in the French village of Festubert. In Festubert, as in many places, buildings that had stood for hundred of years were damaged or destroyed by shelling and shrapnel.

Most of Festubert was rebuilt after the war.

Edmund Blunden survived the war. A prolific poet and critic who became Professor of Poetry at Oxford, he died in 1974. Flanders poppies were laid on his grave.