|In World War I, the British army suffered hundreds of thousands of casualties. As Cay Van Ash notes
in Master of Villainy, "There were many sorrowing hearts in
England" (103). T.
P. O'Connor was an Irish journalist and a prominent member of the
House of Commons who decided to publish the Journal of the Great War. He
was also an old friend of the Rohmer family and at his request, Rohmer
wrote a "poem of consolation" for the grieving families. For a
title he chose "Quare tristis es anima mea?" from Psalm
42, "Why art thou sad, O my soul?"
In Master of Villainy, Van Ash noted that by contemporary standards, the poem may seem to be "mere sentimentality," but he also noted that "there is a time when the sentimental rings true." In the midst of the devastating losses of WWI, the poem touched many people. Van Ash also related the story of a women who, years after it was published, showed Rohmer where she kept the verse in her prayer book. Rohmer, himself, provided a more detailed account in the "Author's Note" he added in 1942 when he re-titled the poem "From the Dead to the Living" and tried to sell it for re-publication. In less "sentimental" times, however, it failed to sell and it has never been published under this title.
The Note and poem presented below were transcribed by Cay Van Ash from Rohmer's files while Van Ash was working on Master of Villainy with Mrs. Rohmer.
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