A Lyrical War: Gallipoli War through Poetry in Anzac Diaries
During the First World War, Dardanelles witnessed one of the fiercest clashes in history between the British and the Turkish forces. This eight-month-war caused the settlement of British army that included Australian and New Zealand Army Corps known as Anzacs on particularly the Gallipoli Peninsula. The Australian and New Zealander soldiers and officers constantly kept diaries and wrote letters that in a sense recorded history from the personal perspective contributing to history with individual observation. If Anzac diaries kept during the Gallipoli clashes in 1915 function as secondary historical sources, they also do function as reminiscences of military officers who found consolation in expressing themselves lyrically during harsh conflicts. Some Anzac officers quote poems in their diaries and some write their own poetry to cope with the violence of war using the aestheticism of poetry. Their poems, on the other hand, remain not only as the lyrical reflections of a deadly reality but also as even more painful portrayals of war.
This paper aims to read poems either quoted or written in the diaries of Anzac soldiers and officers in order to analyse the emotional effects of war on individuals. The poems will be analysed through the perspective of cultural landscape and question the influence of landscape on the perception of war in the minds of the Anzacs. From the new historicist perspective, the diaries bearing poetry will be read not as the sources of historical information but as the texts that use history as the material for poetry. The paper will also question whether or not the individual observations change the perception of official history that does not become the main impulse behind the writing of poetry but turns merely into one of its sources.