The Dead Marshes and WWI

Harvest of Battle, C.R.W. Nevinson, 1919

As part of my World War I unit, I do an Art and Music of WWI lecture. When I showed this image someone in one of my classes said it looked like the Dead Marshes from the Lord of the Rings movies (The Two Towers). I had a vague memory of Tolkien serving in WWI so I did a little research and apparently it looks like there is a connection.

Tolkien’s experience in the war and the encouragement of his only friend who survived the war ultimately led him to write the Lord of the Rings. His service in the British army, his contemplation of the enemy, and landscape scarred by the first modern war (mixed with a lot of rain) can all be seen in his books.

I probably would never say it out loud, but I have been a LOTR fan dating back to when I read the series in elementary school. Since I started teaching world history, I’ve always had the closest connection to my World War I unit. Interesting how those two things were actually related.

I think I may include a short clip of the movie to this lecture next year and add literature to the discussion (All Quiet on the Western Front, Her Private We, etc.). I often find that my students think everything is created in isolation, without influences from the past – from music and movies to current events. This could be a good illustration.


3 thoughts on “The Dead Marshes and WWI”

  1. Very cool.

    Most of my students have heard the poem “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer by the time they get to me. Heck, I had to memorize it in the 3rd grade. Anyway, I usually use Joyce Kilmer to bring in a little literature to my WWI unit. He served with distinction as I recall.

    If I had older kids like you I would really get into that expatriated society that began after the war in Paris……the whole “Razors Edge” point of view.

    I love using art to teach history. I’m glad you do too!


  2. Photography can be incredible for portraying a mood or moment and the photos here do that perfectly. I try to teach people here in China about western art, but rarely touch on war related art. However, i realise that perhaps i should. I will try to find more photography as powerful as these.


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