All day beneath the hurtling shells
Before my burning eyes
Hover the dainty demoiselles —
The peacock dragon-flies.
Unceasingly they dart and glance
Above the stagnant stream —
And I am fighting here in France
As in a senseless dream.
A dream of shattering black shells
That hurtle overhead,
And dainty dancing demoiselles
Above the dreamless dead.
by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson
The last two image take us to a different reality. This is from the final scene of the 1930 film All Quiet on the Western Front. Paul reaches for a butterfly that has landed on a can on the parapet.
This Claggett Wilson watercolor of German soldiers grotesquely caught in the wire is one of many extraordinary works included in the World War One and American Art exhibit.
As a first Lieutenant Marine, Wilson was at Belleau Wood, was mustard gassed twice and twice-wounded, On one occasion he was stranded in no-man’s land for several days before being found and taken for medical treatment. Claggett was not an official war artist but he was a Columbia University art teacher. He painted his memories of the war after he had been wounded. You can see more of his work here.