Poetic Bodies and Corpses: South African Great War Poetry


Gerhard Genis (ed)
University of Pretoria


This volume reveals not only the types of poetry that were written during the war, but also the historical spirit of the times. It mirrors the ways in which manliness, whiteness, blackness, colonialism and empire were viewed during the early 20th-century South Africa. The poems also go to the heart of the  spiritualism of the era and thematically explore the nature of death, dying, suffering and sacrifice.

The post-war poetry that looks back on this conflict is also discussed. The poetry written by blacks resonates with the themes of black self-affirmation and it exhibits early signs of black nationalism.

What all the poetry has in common is the major theme of coming to terms with loss. It speaks of a collective South African consciousness that resides deep within the wounds of conflict.

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Author Biography

Gerhard Genis, University of Pretoria

Dr Gerhard Genis is a senior lecturer at the Department of Humanities Education, University of Pretoria.


Cover for Poetic Bodies and Corpses: South African Great War Poetry
June 27, 2018