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Compare how Brittain and Keown present their grief at losing a loved one during the war in Perhaps- and Reported Missing

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Introduction

Exemplar Essay: First World War Poetry Compare how Brittain and Keown present their grief at losing a loved one during the war in ?Perhaps-? and ?Reported Missing? ?My heart?was broken long ago? Both ?Perhaps? and ?Reported Missing? show the extent to which bereavement can disable and debilitate the bereaved just as totally as the war itself can destroy the lives of its combatants. However, whilst Keown?s optimism surrounding the fate of her loved one evidences denial in the face of unimaginable grief, Brittain is more pragmatic, at least acknowledging that she will never get him back. ?Reported Missing? is almost blindly optimistic. ...read more.

Middle

That she writes a Sonnet is also testament, perhaps, to the love affair which still endures between her and both her loved one and the pastoral ideal he has come to represent. This pastoral ideal is not lost on Brittain in her poem either, but it is something far more nebulous and intangible to her ? a vague hope in which she, essentially, has little hope herself. The structure of ?Perhaps-? is particularly interesting, as the pendulum of each stanza swings neatly between the two sides of Brittain?s paradox: life could be beautiful again, and yet how can it be when her loved one is dead? ...read more.

Conclusion

All the staples of pre-1914 pastoral poetry are there ? ?golden meadows?, ?blossoms sweet? etc. ? but they clearly belong very much to a pre-1914 world which has now been shattered. Lastly, it is revealing that Brittain capitalises the second-person pronoun for her loved one, almost deifying him, and therefore putting any world without this ?one greatest joy? in the shadow of an almost godless existence. Perhaps this shows that she now dwells in the ecliptic realm so feared by Keown. So desperate is she to remain connected to the natural joys of her pre-lapsarian world before the war that she refuses to accept its demise, whereas Brittain?s eyes are wide open, and she is under no illusions as to how annihilative her bereavement actually is. ...read more.

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