Biography of Jessie Pope
Jessie Pope was an English poet, writer and journalist, who remains best known for her patriotic motivational poems published during World War I. Wilfred OwenSiegfried Sassoon has grown.
Born in Leicester, she was educated at North London Collegiate School. She was a regular contributor to Punch, The Daily Mail and The Daily Express, also writing for Vanity Fair, Pall Mall Magazine and the Windsor,
A lesser-known literary contribution was Pope's discovery of Robert Noonan's novel The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, when his daughter mentioned the manuscript to her after his death. Pope recommended it to her publisher, who commissioned her to abridge it before publication. This, a partial bowdlerization, moulded it to a standard working-class tragedy while greatly downgrading its socialist political content.
Other works include Paper Pellets (1907), an anthology of humorous verse. She also wrote verses for children's books, such as The Cat Scouts (Blackie, 1912) and the following eulogy to her friend, Bertram Fletcher Robinson (published in the Daily Express on Saturday 26 January 1907):
“Good Bye, kind heart; our benisons preceding,
Shall shield your passing to the other side.
The praise of your friends shall do your pleading
In love and gratitude and tender pride.
To you gay humorist and polished writer,
We will not speak of tears or startled pain.
You made our London merrier and brighter,
God bless you, then, until we meet again! ”
Pope's war poetry was originally published in The Daily Mail; it encouraged enlistment and handed a white feather to youths who would not join the colors. Nowadays, this poetry is considered to be jingoistic, consisting of simple rhythms and rhyme schemes, with extensive use of rhetorical questions to persuade (and sometimes pressure) young men to join the war. This extract from Who's for the Game? is typical in style:
“Who’s for the game, the biggest that’s played,
The red crashing game of a fight?
Who’ll grip and tackle the job unafraid?
And who thinks he’d rather sit tight?”
Other poems, such as The Call (1915)- "Who’s for the trench — Are you, my laddie?" - expressed similar sentiments. Pope was widely published during the war, apart from newspaper publication producing three volumes: Jessie Pope's War Poems (1915), More War Poems (1915) and Simple Rhymes for Stirring Times (1916).
Her treatment of the subject is markedly in stark contrast to the anti-war stance of soldier poets such as Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. Many of these men found her work distasteful, Owen in particular. His poem Dulce et Decorum Est was a direct response to her writing, originally dedicated "To Jessie Pope etc.". A later draft amended this as "To a certain Poetess", later being removed completely to turn the poem into a general attack on anyone sympathetic to the war. In hindsight, Pope's poetry seems to take a light-hearted approach towards a conflict nowadays considered brutal in the extreme, though her views were by no means atypical of the general public at the time.
Pope is prominently remembered first for her pro-war poetry, but also as a representative of homefront female propagandists such as Mrs Humphry Ward, May Wedderburn Cannan, Emma Orczy, and entertainers such as Vesta Tilley. In particular, the poem "War Girls", similar in structure to her pro-war poetry, states how "No longer caged and penned up/They're going to keep their end up/Until the khaki soldier boys come marching back". Though largely unknown at the time, the War Poets like Nichols, Sassoon and Owen, as well as later writers such as Edmund Blunden, Robert Graves, and Richard Aldington, have come to define the experience of the First World War.
Pope's work is today often presented in schools and anthologies as a counterpoint to the work of the War Poets, a comparison by which her pro-war work suffers both technically and politically. Some writers have attempted a partial re-appraisal of her work as an early pioneer of English women in the workforce, while still critical of both the content and artistic merit of her war poetry. Reminded that Pope was primarily a humourist and writer of light verse, her success in publishing and journalism during the pre-war era, when she was described as the "foremost woman humourist" of her day has been overshadowed by her propagandistic war poems. Her verse has been mined for sympathetic portrayals of the poor and powerless, of women urged to be strong and self-reliant. Her portrayal of the Suffragettes in a pair of counterpointed 1909 poems makes a case both for and against their actions.
After the war, Pope continued to write, penning a short novel, poems—many of which continued to reflect upon the war and its aftermath—and books for children. She married a widower bank manager in 1929, when she was 61, and moved from London to Fritton, near Great Yarmouth. She died on December, 14, 1941 in Devon.
Jessie Pope's Works:
Paper Pellets (1907)
The Cat Scouts (Blackie, 1912)
Jessie Pope's War Poems (1915)
More War Poems (1915)
Simple Rhymes for Stirring Times (1916)
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Jessie Pope Poems
By bridge and battery, town and trench, They're fighting with bull-dog pluck; Not one, from Tommy to General French, Is down upon his luck.
Play The Game
Twenty-Two stalwarts in stripes and shorts Kicking a ball along, Set in a square of leather-lunged sports Twenty-two thousand strong,
Who's For The Game?
Who’s for the game, the biggest that’s played, The red crashing game of a fight? Who’ll grip and tackle the job unafraid?
The call came in the stormy night, Beneath a stranger's sky. The soldier of a life-long fight, Still fighting, went to die.
Who's for the trench- Are you, my laddie? Who'll follow French- Will you, my laddie?
The Blackest Lie
Big bully Belgium, Breathing blood and flame, Crafty as a serpent In a cunning game,
Marching To Germany
Swing along together, lads ; we'll have a little song, Kits won't be so heavy and the way won't be so long. We're goin' to cook ' the Sossiges,' to cook 'em hot and strong While we go marching to Germany.
Shining pins that dart and click In the fireside’s sheltered peace Check the thoughts the cluster thick -
In heaven, a pale uncertain star, Through sullen vapour peeps, On earth, extended wide and far, In all the symmetry of war,
I. THE COMMAND To his crack army corps, 'twas the Kaiser who spoke : By Bavarians bold must the British be broke.
Darkness expectant, discreet Only a lamp here and there, Gloom in the clattering street, Stygian black in the square;
The Knitting Song
SOLDIER lad, on the sodden ground, Sailor lad on the seas, Can't you hear a little clicketty sound
Comrades In Arms-Lets
Not theirs the popular uniform That takes the feminine heart by storm, And wins soft glances, shy or warm, The perquisites of pluck.
Little And Good
Young Thompson was a bit too short, But hard as nails and level-headed, And in his soul the proper sort Of dogged pluck was deeply bedded ;
'There's the girl who clips your ticket for the train,
And the girl who speeds the lift from floor to floor,
There's the girl who does a milk-round in the rain,
And the girl who calls for orders at your door.
Strong, sensible, and fit,
They're out to show their grit,
And tackle jobs with energy and knack.
No longer caged and penned up,
They're going to keep their end up