Winston Churchill is credited with the observation that history is written by the victors, although the closest uttering by him on record is the wittier "History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it".
But whoever said that might usefully have added "likewise, film, literature and poetry".
For evidence of this, look no further than the aftermath of the two world wars, out of which flowed much blood on all sides, but creative writing, it seemed, from only one.
There were exceptions. The novel Nothing New in The West (translated into English as All Quiet on the Western Front) was written in 1929 by Erich Maria Remarque, a wounded veteran of the German army, but it stands virtually alone.
The Second World War launched an entire fleet of films about British and American heroism and sacrifice. Noel Coward's patriotic Royal Navy epic, In Which We Serve, was playing to enthusiastic audiences on both sides of the Atlantic by 1942, yet it was 1981 before the comparable German experience finally surfaced in Das Boot, Wolfgang Petersen's claustrophobic tale of life and death on a U-boat.
This loss of the other side of the story - a product, in the case of a guilt-bound Germany, as much of self-censorship as cultural reparation demanded by the victors - has the effect of distorting the whole experience. Valuable lessons that might have been learnt remain untaught, leaving the mistakes of the past doomed to be repeated.
Take, for example, the poetry of the First World War. Much art has its own time and place but there are few entire genres bound so closely to such a precise period as war poetry; the very phrase seems incomplete without the prefix "First World". This was, after all, the period during which the genre, fed and watered by the blood and disillusion of doomed youth, blossomed and burst forth among the poppies in the churned fields of Mons, Ypres, Arras and Loos.
Yet who in the English-speaking world could name a German poet from the Great War?
For every Rupert Brooke there must surely have been a young German soldier equally resigned to his own approaching end, yet his voice remains silenced.
From Passchendaele to Port Stanley; and it is this imbalance that is addressed by two books published to mark the 30th anniversary of the anachronistic war fought between Argentina and Britain over the Falkland Islands, invaded on April 2, 1982, by the former and liberated by the latter on June 14 the same year. They are very different books, yet each complements the other in asking our thoughts to dwell on the humanity of the losers.
One is the updated reissue of a book originally published in 1987 by the only full-time British journalist who remained in Argentina during the conflict. In The Land That Lost its Heroes, Jimmy Burns offers a unique view of the country under General Leopoldo Galtieri, whose dictatorship cynically exploited a historical claim to the "Malvinas" in a bid to win back popular support.
It is a fascinating book, full of surprising detail and charting the ebb and flow of nationalist sentiment that was so easily manipulated by the junta - until, that is, the bodies started coming home.
In England, Galtieri's rash gamble would offer an opportunity to a Thatcher government also in need of an injection of distracting nationalistic fervour. The general had reckoned without this - surely, Britain was a spent force - and so, thanks to an unhappy convergence of rival political imperatives, the die was cast for the death of close to 300 young Britons and twice as many Argentines.
It is, of course, in their stories, and in the stories of the dead of all conflicts, that the tragedy of the futility of war is told, and it is in the telling of such first-hand accounts that future generations of potential cannon fodder come closest to divining the truth behind what Wilfred Owen characterised as "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" (the old lie).
The dryly titled Falklands War Poetry tells some of these stories, providing a humanising counterpoint to the facts of Burns' excellent account. And for an English-language readership, there is much to be learnt from the discovery of poems not only from British servicemen but also from those on the other side.
There should, of course, be no expectation that a small, short war could produce poetry anything like that spawned by the First World War. Many of the writers of 1914-18 were, after all, classically educated poets turned soldiers; before their attention was forced to the horrors of trenches and bullets, they were enthusing lyrically about the beauty of trees and birds.
Indeed, as editor David Roberts acknowledges, the book should not "be looked upon as some sort of equivalent to an anthology of poetry of the First World War" when, in the UK alone, "over 2,000 poets were published and they were writing about a war whose scale, destruction, suffering and duration bear no comparison with the Falklands conflict".
But beside scale there is another difference between then and now, and it is one that makes all the difference when it comes to the veracity of the poetry.
In the First World War, men were herded to the front as conscripts. They had no choice and could only surrender to whatever fate had in store, and this helplessness, this loss of self-determination, is the necessary armature that supports much of the period's poetry.
The British force that was sent south to the Falklands in 1982, however, was comprised solely of regulars - volunteers who in signing up to the colours had tacitly contracted to accept whatever came their way, be it ceremonial guard duty outside Buckingham Palace or a bullet with their name on it.
Thus in reading such faux grandiose lines as: "Men who sit on chairs send letters to the bereaved / They tell of the heroism of what they have achieved / Men who sit on chairs sleep soundly in their beds / Unlike the men in psycho wards being force-fed on their meds", the reader cannot suppress the thought that nobody forced the writer to sign up in the first place.
Though none is great, some of the British poems are at least not entirely bad. The lines: "But do not bring your conscience; / Do not bring your soul. / The first you'll not be needing; / The second will be stole" from Task Force, written by Bernie Bruen, the commander of a team of Royal Navy bomb-disposal experts in the Falklands, is a smart echo of Kipling's barrack-room balladry.
The better poems are those that appreciate the value of brevity, which imposes structural discipline and restricts amateur poeticising. Snapshots, such as the following from James Love's The Survivors, cast the starkest light on moments of personal truth: "You feel bad, so you have a little drink. / Another makes you feel better. / Several more make you feel great. / The devil's the barman ..."
Others open by evoking the mournful sentiment of the First World War poets, but it is a promise frequently swept away as the writer, giving every impression of imitating a poet, rather than actually being one, loses his tenuous grip on the form.
The truth, and the fascination, of this volume is that the best poems by far are those written by "the enemy" - most of whom, of course, were young, frightened conscripts pressed into uniform. It is this separating fact that lends authenticity to their words, while robbing it from those of the British, though there is also, for once, much more real poetry to be found on the losing side.
For once? Or perhaps it was always thus, and we just never knew. After all, most of the Argentine poetry here was written not at the time, but after the book's editor went looking for it, giving the poets permission to address this signature event in their lives.
Some of these poems are as genuinely moving as the best from the Great War. One, with a title doubtless deliberately reminiscent of the line found on the grave of every unknown Commonwealth soldier - an epitaph penned by Kipling himself - is A Soldier of The Malvinas Known Only to God, by Roberto Ronchietto: "But already I have no name! / How shall I free myself after the defeat / and find the pier where luck abandoned me / to return floating over this infinity / and walk until I find the smiles of my parents / in the afternoon's return, / embody myself in the spirit of the birds / and return with my wings of freedom / to contemplate the island that imprisons me."
For the most part, the Argentines write sharply and - crucially, for words assembled under the heading "poetry" - poetically. In Not Today, José Luis Aparicio deploys banality with tight, Haiku-like precision to underscore the understated horror of the finality of sudden, violent death: "Yesterday morning began rainy, / cold, windy, / irritating. / At least it began, / not like today."
Where some of the British poems are stained with jingoism, the Argentine offerings are devoid of the politically expedient nationalism that sent the country's young men to die. Instead, they are laced only with resignation and regret.
Britain won the war, but Argentina won the creative replay. History may indeed be written by the victors; but in the Falklands, at least, the poetry was written by the losers.
Jonathan Gornall is a former features writer for The National.