aftermath

On the occasion of the signing of the Armistice of 11 November 1918, Thomas Hardy wrote the poem ‘And there was a great calm’. This is the last stanza.

IX

Calm fell. From Heaven distilled a clemency;
There was peace on earth, and silence in the sky;
Some could, some could not, shake off misery:
The Sinister Spirit sneered: ‘It had to be!’
And again the Spirit of Pity whispered, ‘Why?’

The word ‘aftermath’ springs to mind.

Nevinson, Christopher Richard Wynne, 1889-1946; Rain and Mud after the Battle

Rain and mud after the battle (1917) by Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson. Painting held in Museums Sheffield, UK. Public domain.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), ‘-math’ is related to ‘mow’ and the word ‘aftermath’ has been in use since the end of the 15th century, meaning ‘a second crop or new growth of grass […] after the first has been mown or harvested’.

A century and a half later the word is also used figuratively to mean ‘a period or state of affairs following a significant event, esp. when that event is destructive or harmful’.

youth mourning 1916 clausen iwm-art-004655

Youth mourning (1916) by George Clausen. Painting held at the Imperial War Museums, UK. Public domain. — This painting is believed to have been inspired by the death of the artist’s daughter’s fiancé during the war.

Mother_with_her_Dead_Son_(Käthe_Kollwitz)

Enlarged version of Pietà (1937–38/39) by Käthe Kollwitz. Held at the Neue Wache in Berlin, Germany. Image © by Rafael Rodrigues Camargo (CC BY-SA 4.0). — The sculpture shows an old woman holding her dead son and was inspired by the death of the artist’s youngest son in October 1914.

1024px-Het_treurende_ouderpaar_-_Käthe_Kolwitz

Mourning parents (1931–32) by Käthe Kollwitz. Sculpture held at the German War Cemetery in Vladslo, Belgium. Image in public domain. — The artist created this memorial for the cemetery where her youngest son, who had died in the war in October 1914, was buried.

VDWoesteyne_1969-C kopie

Hospitality to strangers (1920) by Gustave Van de Woestyne. Fresco held at Museum of Schone Kunsten in Gent, Belgium. Public domain. —  This fresco shows the artist inviting a stranger into his home and is believed to have been inspired by the works of mercy mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew and by the sufferings of people after the war, which Van de Woestyne wrote about in his letters at the time.