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By comparing and contrasting a selection of war poems consider the ways in which attitudes to war have been explored and expressed. When considering poetry written post 1914 concentrate on a selection of poems written by Wilfred Owen.

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Introduction

The tradition of war poetry By comparing and contrasting a selection of war poems consider the ways in which attitudes to war have been explored and expressed. When considering poetry written post 1914 concentrate on a selection of poems written by Wilfred Owen. The main point in time which has affected the evolution of views expressed through poetry about war was the First World War or the 'great war', in 1914, "the war to end all wars". One poem written before this time was 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' by Alfred Tennyson. The use of rhythm is particularly noticeable, which is demonstrated by the first two lines, "half a league, half a league, half a league onward", which has a strong rhythmical sense of repetition. This gives the effect of the rhythm of horses surging forwards, portraying a sense of excitement, energy and drama. This is ironic due to the number of people killed during the act. This strong rhythmical pattern is repeated throughout the poem, which gives the reader a sense of urgency and continuation. Tennyson suggests an incomplete positive opinion about the charge with the line "some one had blundered", which hints that the mass death incurred was unnecessary; however, it is then used instead to demonstrate the bravery of the soldiers as chivalrous knights. ...read more.

Middle

Their death as cattle is the tragic result to King Henry's inspiration. In contrast to the glory and splendour perceived by 'charge of the light brigade' the word "cattle" suggests mundane and dullness. This banal image shows Owen's extreme anger towards the war. Owen then uses personification in the line "monstrous anger of the guns", to portray the guns as if they were living and feeling emotions, thus worsening their appearance to the reader. This personification as a monster is similar to that used by Tennyson in 'charge of the light brigade', in the line "into the jaws of death", which both have the connotations of being unstoppable and terrifying. The use of the alliterated 'r' in the line "rifle's rapid rattle" reflects the speed of the machine gun fire, which builds on the point of massive amounts of indiscriminate death. Owen uses the visual and aural images involved in funerals to progress the poem to an emotional stage with the line "save the choirs" which suggests a momentary chance of actual recognition for the soldiers, but this is then replaced by "the shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells", which have very powerful emotional nuances, such as the act of unstoppable crying at a moment of intense grief for "wailing". The word "shrill" implies a high pitched and dissonant cacophony of ugly sounds, and "demented" suggests uncontrollable chaos. ...read more.

Conclusion

Suddenly, Owen introduces a shouted inchoate exclamation, in the line "Gas! Gas! Quick boys!", which shows a dramatic recreation for the reader of the events which occurred. This is followed by a temporary pause of relief, which is followed by the line "but someone was still yelling and fumbling", which portrays the agony of incompetent movement. The use of three 's's shows urgency because of the repetition, which is significant because it depicts the excruciating exigency to fit their helmets in time. In the final section, Owen directs his criticism towards pro-war poets, specifically Jessie Pope, whom he hated for the excitement she instigated through her ignorance. It ends with the lines from which the title was derived, described as "the old lie", which refers to nineteenth centaury poetry, e.g. Henry V, because of the word "old". By referring to it as a "lie", he is attacking these poems, which not only explains the irony of the poems title, but also reinforces Owen's position of communicating the realties of trench warfare. In conclusion, the tradition of war poetry has evolved as the public's awareness of its realities gas changed. One of the poets who actively developed war poetry after 1914 was Wilfred Owen, who passionately hated the way in which war was glamorised and made to appear exciting and honourable. His poetry was contrasting to the majority of pre-1914 poetry, but is now the most widely recognized and remembered. Nick Wall 1 ...read more.

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