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According to The Guardian (UK) former poet laureate, Andrew Motion, has been accused of plagiarism by a military historian for a poem published in The Guardian. 

Ben Shephard who produced the television series The World at War complained the poet had been ‘extracting sexy soundbites’ from the historian’s painstaking work on the psychiatric impact of war on soldiers.  “Shameless burgalry’ Shephard called Motion’s Remembrance Day poem explaining that five of the eight stanzas were lifted directly from his book A War of Nerves.

Do poets have this right to use others words as they see fit? The found poem is, indeed, a literary tradition but when does borrowing become ripping off? You decide. Here is a ‘borrowed’ extract from  the pome, An Equal Voice, compiled by Andrew Motion for Remembrance Day 2009 as a tribute to those who fought in World War I. You’’ll find the full text of An Equal Voice on The Guardian Website.


An Equal Voice 

…………….Everyone called it

shell-shock, meaning concussion, but shell-

shock is rare. What 90% get is justifiable funk

due to the collapse of the helm of our self-control.

You understand what you see but you cannot think.

Your head is in agony and you want relief for that.

The more you struggle, the more madness creeps

over you. The brain cannot think of anything at all.

From An Equal Voice by Andrew Motion

You will find another poem by Andrew Motion, The Five Acts of Harry Patch, on The Telegraph website.

Poppy Pic Bas Kerr’s Photostream

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