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C O U R S E 
The Great War and Modern Philosophy
Nicolas de Warren, KU Leuven University
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Hodgson and Reinach on Foreboding
Notes taken on November 21, 2016 by Edward Tanguay
British 18 and 19-year-old men found themselves in a foreign land for the first time
German fathers found themselves in France which they had once visited as a student
they stood in trenches waiting for the shrill whistle that ordered them over the top
the saw little of the enemy
only the crash of artillery
the murmur of those around them waiting as they were to die
William Noel Hodgson (1893-1916)
"Before Action"
By all the glories of the day
And the cool evening's benison
By that last sunset touch that lay
Upon the hills when day was done,
By beauty lavishly outpoured
And blessings carelessly received,
By all the days that I have lived
Make me a soldier, Lord.
By all of all man's hopes and fears
And all the wonders poets sing,
The laughter of unclouded years,
And every sad and lovely thing;
By the romantic ages stored
With high endeavour that was his,
By all his mad catastrophes
Make me a man, O Lord.
I, that on my familiar hill
Saw with uncomprehending eyes
A hundred of thy sunsets spill
Their fresh and sanguine sacrifice,
Ere the sun swings his noonday sword
Must say good-bye to all of this; –
By all delights that I shall miss,
Help me to die, O Lord.
articulated the sense that he was about to die
each of the three stanzas ends with an evocation to the Lord
"Make me a man, O Lord"
"Make me a soldier, O Lord"
"Help me to die, O Lord"
the form of the poem is that of a prayer
the construction of its meter is that of a hymn
the author is a man praying to God to prepare him for his future, which will be his imminent death
first stanza
attempts to draw strength
celebrates splendor and beauty of nature
reflects on his own life as a gift, which is in its final hours
a sense of deep gratitude
the image of the sunset
irradiates the countryside
the countryside and nature is something like a gift of God
second stanza
a shift from nature to man
a shift from a man being a poet to being a soldier
confronts himself as a man in his mortality
third stanza
themes of first and second stanza are brought together
evokes the classical image of the sunset
associates the sunset with a moment of saying goodbye and saying farewell
equally stressed is the sense of his own sacrifice
ends with a sense of melancholy
gives the poem a sense of mourning, a mourning for a death
Hodgson died two days after writing this poem
gave voice and expression to the experience of foreboding
preparing oneself for death
a widespread phenomenon among soldiers of the First World War
Adolf Reinach (1883-1917)
discussed in philosophical terms the premonition that soldiers have when they are about to die
the anticipation that one will die
he discussed this with his comrades
explains it away as a kind of rational calculation
a kind of reasonableness
phenomenological analysis of foreboding
seen through the concept of intentionality
a form of consciousness that has both an object, and it is also a certain distinctive kind of relating to that object
rejects the knowing that is in foreboding as knowledge such as 1+1=2, or that it is going to rain
it is more of an emotion, a kind of fear or joy
yet it is original
something about one's own future is revealed
yet I have no certainty in knowing about that future
it is the uncertainty that makes me afraid, but also not without a sense of wonder and mystery