This has been such an important year in our history as a nation - and indeed for all the nations who were involved in the Great War which began a century ago.
So many lives were lost between 1914 and 1917. We've seen news reports and listened to discussions on radio and TV. And, of course, there have been books to read, whether they are fact or fictional in which the horrors are described.
Such a monumental tragedy has led to classic novels such as Hemingway's A Farewell To Arms, Pat Barker's Regeneration, or Ford Maddox Brown's Parade's End - adapted by Tom Stoppard for a BBC dramatisation which was screened in 2012 and starred a wonderful acting cast, which included Benedict Cumberbatch, Rupert Everett, Freddie Fox, Miranda Richardson, and the glorious Rebecca Hall.
Over the years there have been other films and television dramas, and several of them inspired by novels set against that dreadful time - such as Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks which so captured imaginations when published in 1993.
Birdsong vividly described the tragedy of forbidden love, as well as the lives so cruelly lost during the fighting in the war. When life and love and death are brought so closely into focus the heightened tension often leads to extremely dramatic writing - such as that in Ian McEwan's astonishing Atonement, published in 2001. And again, that book inspired a film and, if you watch for nothing else, the Dunkirk scenes are breathtaking; a truly harrowing image of the fighting's wretched aftermath.
Scene of Dunkirk from the film, Atonement.
Another more recent title which has also dealt with such large themes is Kate Williams' The Storms of War - the first in a trilogy which will lead us up to the Second World War.
What is interesting about The Storms of War is how the central conflict is mirrored by the family of a German industrial magnate who has settled in England to make his life in a grand and rambling country house. The novel explores the class system and how personal friendships formed in peace may not survive in times of war. We see the death of Empire, the rise of women's emancipation, and the bitter realities of life thrown under the spotlight of nationalism.
A more romantically inclined, though no less tragic offering, is Judith Kinghorn's heartbreaking and beautifully written novel. The Last Summer is a love story played out against the First World war - and again we have a country house to compare with that in The Storms of War, as well as Isabel Colegate's remarkable The Shooting Party.
Colegate's 1981 novel went on to inspire two films - the one which bears the novels name, and the Oscar winning Gosforth Park, which takes us back to Downton again, being written by Julian Fellowes, who has now penned an introduction in a recent reprint of Colegate's book. There is simply no getting away from the man - or the Downton stickers on the books!
But really, what better symbol for the England just about to fall than in the glorious summer scenes of garden parties set on lawns that spread before the mellow bricks of stately homes behind them, where the sun always shines and the fragrant blooms exude such sweetness in the air. The darkness and the stench of death that followed on is palpable; a vivid nightmare set against the peaceful Edwardian Summer dreams that few - the aristocrats at least - believed would ever reach an end.
But, of course, they had to end. After 1914 many heavens descended into hells. And with that in mind I'd like to end this post with a poem I read today by the German writer, Carl Zuckmayer (for which I must thank Simon Barraclough, who is himself a poet).
It is incredibly moving. Raw, and visceral - and real.
Soldier drinking stagnant water from a bomb crater. 1917. British Library.
I haven't eaten for seven days
And shot a man right in the face.
When I scratch, the bright blood runs.
I'll soon by turning twenty-one.
When I'm drunk, I'll plant my fist
In those pasty faces. Rage is my hymn.
Lice and fleas eat from my shins.
My stubble sprouts like garden cress.
And so I take my seed in my hand -
Europe's future, black-specked spawn;
A god drowns in a sludge-filled pond! -
And shit my legacy on the wall.
Translation by David Colmer
From The Singing Scythe ~ a selection of WW1 Poetry to which you can subscribe at The Modern Poetry in Translation Magazine.