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Interpreting the Evidence

War Poem "For Me"

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Era:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    Communication
    World War I

  • Primary Source Types:

    Written Document

  • Regions:

    New York State
    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load War Poem "For Me," by Thomas Curtis Clark, World War I, May 1918 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
"For Me," a poem written by Thomas Curtis Clark, is dedicated to the governor of New York (Charles S. Whitman) and to the men on the front. The poem talks about how those men on the front fight in the most "fiendish light" and are dying in battle so that freedom can be maintained for the speaker and others, May 1918.

Historical Context
World War I was a conflict that had worldwide political, economic, and social repercussions.  The war was a tragic period that resulted in millions of lives lost, tens of millions of people wounded, and a countless number of lives changed forever.  While Americans knew that the country was at war, as news of deaths and the horrors of battle reached home, some people needed encouragement reminding them why America had sent soldiers overseas.
This poem was written by Thomas Curtis Clark to rekindle the morale of Americans at home.  As the verses of the poem progress, he states how soldiers are selflessly fighting, bleeding, and even dying for his freedom.  Although Clark’s words may not have completely consoled those who had suffered loss, the poem does send the message that those who had perished and those that continued to fight did not do so in vain.

Essential Question
How are soldiers viewed on the homefront?

Check for Understanding
Explain the purpose of the poem using evidence from the poem.

Historical Challenges
If you were a New Yorker on the home front and saw this poem in your newspaper, how would you respond to it? Write a brief 1-2 paragraph opinion letter to the newspaper in response to the poem.

Interdisciplinary Connections
English: What is the rhyme scheme of Clark’s poem? Compose a fourth verse of to the poem as a modern poet writing about World War I.

Music: Compare and contrast a patriotic song to Clark’s poem. What are the similarities and differences?