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Compare "The Drum" by John Scott and "Vitai Lampada" by Henry Newbolt.

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Introduction

Pre 1914 War Poems The two poems that I am going to compare are "The Drum" by John Scott and "Vitai Lampada" by Henry Newbolt. The poems have greatly contrasting views of war. "The Drum" has a negative perception of war whereas "Vitai Lampada" portrays a very positive image of war. A drum is a musical instrument that was used during war times to recruit men to sign up and join the army. The drum would be banged to get people to notice that the army was recruiting outside, people would then leave their houses and 'sign up' in the street. The first line of the poem tells the reader about the poet's view on war, "I hate that drum's discordant sound". Discordant - meaning disagreeing, at variance in respect to sounds. The word "hate" meaning to dislike intensely used as the second word in this poem, showing the strength of the feelings about war felt by the writer John Scott. ...read more.

Middle

"pleasure yields" the boys and men signing up for war are pleased to be signing up, people see them as heroes, fighting for their country, but by saying that "to thoughtless youths it pleasure yields" implies that to everyone else, the sound of the drum does not yield pleasure. The last line of the first stanza of "Vitai Lampada", " 'Play up! play up! And play the game!'" is repeated later on in the poem at the end of each stanza. The first time " 'Play up! play up! and play the game!' " is seen, it is referring to the boys playing the game of cricket. The second time it is seen, (at the end of the second stanza) it is used as a chant to "rally" the ranks, rally - to attempt to improve morale and efforts of the ranks, ranks - groups of soldiers fighting together. ...read more.

Conclusion

"Vitai Lampada" uses alliteration also, "his captains hand on his shoulder smote" using alliteration of the letter 's'. Both poems use very descriptive language, which, in some cases describe quite graphically the effects of war. From "The Drum", "mangled limb and dying groans, widows' tears and orphans moans", mangled meaning damaged severely. From "Vitai Lampada", "The sand of the desert is sodden red... with the wreck of a square that broke". "Sodden red" referring to the blood spilled, "a square that broke" referring to the military formation, 'a square', that was defeated. The poems are also similar as they both rhyme and have a regular meter, apart from the last line of each stanza of "The Drum" I do not know the exact date when these poems were written, but if I did it might give some clue as to why they are so greatly contrasting. They may also be different because of the writer's personal encounters with war. John Scott (writer of "The Drum") may have been to fight in a war and seen the devastating effects, whereas Henry Newbolt (writer of "Vitai Lampada") may not have. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

A good attempt to compare the poems and looks at the relevant elements of language and structure. I would like to see further exploration of form as this is essential to effective interpretation of poetry.

4 Stars

Marked by teacher Laura Gater 09/07/2013

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