top of page

Out in the Dark

Poetry of the First World War
in context and with basic notes

out Fr covr 25 10 13.jpg

Out in the Dark 
Poetry of the First World War 

in Context and with Basic Notes

Edited by David Roberts

192 pages    9x6"   234x156mm 
  Paperback, Illustrated, ISBN 978 0 9528969 1 3 

Published by Saxon Books     £10-99 (UK)

Buy direct from the publisher
at discounted price

For students and the general reader

This anthology has been prepared for the general reader and will have a special value for students, including GCSE and A level. 

Wide range of poems

Out in the Dark contains 

  • the most important poems of the First World War (more details below)

  • popular verse  

  • Poetry by 17 women poets 

  • examples of late 19th century English militarist verse which influenced young minds and shows attitudes to war at the start of the 20th century 

  • basic explanatory notes on unusual expressions or vocabulary

  • a glossary

  • illustrations including contemporary photographs, posters, maps and diagrams

    Many of the poems are selected by exam boards. The 19th century poems, examples of the culture of Empire and militarism, help to explain both the rush to war and the nature of the early poetry of the First World War - 140 poems in all by 47 poets. 

Poems grouped for better understanding

The great classic poets of the war: Wilfred Owen (19 poems), Siegfried Sassoon (27), Edward Thomas (13), Thomas Hardy (9), Rupert Brooke (6), Charles Sorley (6), Isaac Rosenberg (9) have their poems arranged in date order in separate chapters. As a result the development of their ideas or styles may more readily be appreciated. 

Forty other poets round out this poignant collection.

Other chapters include Britain Dreams of War, the Home Front, Women Poets, and Trench Warfare. 

Appreciating the poems

Out in the Dark contains the background information (including extracts from poets' letters and diaries) and specialised vocabulary that students need to be able to understand and interpret set war poetry texts. Comments of past and present day critics give starting points for considering alternative interpretations of many poems. 

This anthology of war poetry, with its contextual material and strong illustrations will prove stimulating and rewarding, and an ideal resource for "coursework."  

Suitable for GCSE and GCE A/AS  level students - for example, OCR GCSE English Literature: Post 1914 texts, coursework to include “comparisons . . .  Relation of texts to social, cultural, and historical contexts.”

Main differences from Minds at War

Fewer poems (but see list of poets and poems in Out in the Dark above, and less background information -  though still substantial and still including extracts from poets' letters and diaries.

It has the addition of basic notes explaining unusual vocabulary with almost all poems and the addition of comments of critics on a number of key poets, making it invaluable to students


Comments on Out in the Dark


"By far the most useful anthology for students; it is really well designed, and gives students just the context they need for the poetry.  It also provides a particularly stimulating selection of poems.  I like it very much, but I actually feel that schools (and universities for that matter) should have both volumes. [Minds at War and Out in the Dark.]"  -  Felicity Currie, author of the Textwise study guides to English literature*, former assistant chief examiner in A level English Literature, university lecturer. 

"Out in the Dark . . . a substantial anthology of key poems and a wide range of selected material from diaries, letters, other poetry of the period, contextual and critical material . . . [Out in the Dark and Minds at War] contain a wealth of information and creative material which puts many other First World War anthologies into the shade." - - Gordon Hodgson, in National Association of Teachers of English web review on

"The poets are put precisely in their social and political context, with the pre-war background set out helpfully and basic notes to the poems. . .  The book helps you to understand public opinion by including poems written as pro-war and imperialist and militarist arguments which prepared young minds to support and wage war. . .   Contains Sassoon's 'wilful defiance of military authority [statement]' because the war had 'become a war of aggression and conquest,' and Arnold Bennett's argument against it. . .   Tellingly illustrated and balanced."  -  Ronald Mallone, Day by Day.

Available direct from the publisher, Saxon Books, at a discounted price

bottom of page