Expressing the Inexpressible: Conceptions of Pain in Isaac Rosenberg’s War Poetry and Homer’s Iliad

Victoria Bergbauer


This paper explores conceptions of pain in Homer’s Iliad and Isaac Rosenberg’s war poetry. In analysing the modern poet’s reception, who fought World War I between 1915 and 1918, of the ancient epic, it illuminates both texts in new lights. Aware of the impossibility to communicate pain exactly this study revolves around such complexity, moments that nevertheless achieve to express the inexpressible. Stressing the reader’s and the narrator’s positioning, the paper draws out questions on textual silence, notions of distance, on moments that stand out through their uncertainty, incoherence even. Hereby, a noteworthy instant unravels in the close relationship between pain and beauty. As pain resists the suddenness of descriptions, the exploration reflects further on pain in the context of kléos: does the strife for immortal fame eliminate the possibility of pain? Or do painful struggles condition the process of becoming the undying hero?

Parole chiave

Pain; Reception; War Poetry; Homer; Isaac Rosenberg

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