The Poets

Dies Irae uses text from a number of named poets, listed below in chronological order of their birth. It also draws on scripture, liturgy, children's rhymes and folksong.

Martin Luther
(1483 - 1546)
German professor of theology, composer, priest, sometime monk and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation. He had a great influence on German hymnody.

The hymn Mitten wir im Leben sind, translated as “In the midst of earthly life” is used in movement 6 “Hymn”.

William Shakespeare
(1565 - 1616)
English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist.

The poem Fear no more the heat o’ the sun from Cymbeline is used in movement 14 “Elegy”.

John Milton
(1608 - 1674)
English poet, polemicist, man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell.

Extracts from his most famous work, Paradise Lost (1667), are used in movements 8 “Arrival” and 10 “Battle”.

Rudyard Kipling
(1865 - 1936)
English journalist, short-story writer, poet and novelist. Kipling’s son John was killed in action in the First World War, at the Battle of Loos in September 1915.

His poem My Boy Jack is used in movement 13 “Petition”.

Edward Thomas
(1878 - 1917)
English poet, essayist, and novelist. He was killed in action at the Battle of Arras in 1917.

His poem In Memoriam (Easter 1915) is used in movement 1 “Memorial”

Siegfried Sassoon
(1886 - 1967)
English poet, writer, and soldier and one of the leading poets of the First World War.

A fragment from his poem Before The Battle, written in June 1916, is used in movement 11 “Consolation”.

Rupert Brooke
(1887 - 1915)
English poet. He died in April 1915 of sepsis from an infected mosquito bite whilst serving with the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force.

His poem The Dead is used in movement 15 “Threnody”.

Alan Seeger
(1888 - 1916)
American poet. He was killed in July 1916 while serving with the French Foreign Legion at the Battle of the Somme.

Part of his poem I have a Rendezvous with Death is used in movement 7 “Foreboding”.

William Noel Hodgson
(1893 - 1916)
English poet who wrote under the name Edward Melbourne. He was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

Two of his poems are used in Dies Irae: England, To Her Sons is used in movement 2 “Exhortation”; and Before Action is used in movement 5 “Invocation”.

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