AS and A Level: War Poetry

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Writing about World War One poetry

  1. 1 Although it is easy to try and position poems as either ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ war this is quite a simplistic division. Many poems have an ambiguous attitude, perhaps demonstrating a variety of thoughts and ideas. Be sure to assess possibilities of different perspectives within poems as well as between them.
  2. 2 It can be useful to analyse World War One poetry in comparison to other war poems written both before and after.
  3. 3 Studying the female voice offers a different perspective on the war.
  4. 4 Some contextual knowledge of the time and of the poets is helpful, although this information should only be used if directly relevant to the question and if it enhances poetic analysis and contributes to meaningful discussion.
  5. 5 With any poetry it is unwise to try and guess at how the poets were ‘feeling’ about their experiences. Keep focused on the poems themselves.

When analysing poetry you might like to consider some of the following

  1. 1 The perspective, tone and register of narrator is a good place to start analysis. Remember that these can differ within poems. Be sure also to distinguish between the poet and the narrative voice.
  2. 2 Titles, openings and endings can be a good way to start your analysis.
  3. 3 Look for patterns and oppositions (or lack of) that emerge.
  4. 4 Consider effects of other poetic techniques such as: use of imagery, semantic fields, phonological devices etc.
  5. 5 Consider the effects of structure and form; it is important to recognise the insights this analysis can provide.

Writing essays on World War One poetry

  1. 1 All essays should be well planned with clear points which enable a progressive structure.
  2. 2 Introductions should clearly address the question, perhaps determining position of argument/discussion to follow.
  3. 3 Each paragraph should ideally begin with a topic sentence which addresses the question, evidence from the poem/s to support the point (with quotes embedded), and detailed analysis using appropriate technical terminology. Remember that feature spotting does not demonstrate any useful knowledge and understanding of a poem.
  4. 4 If relevant, contextual references to World War One or the poets can inform and develop points and comparative points with other war poems (from before and after) are often insightful.
  5. 5 A concise conclusion should make a final summary that directly addresses the question. Ensure all essays are proof-read to avoid errors.

1,511 AS and A Level War Poetry essays

  • Marked by Teachers essays 50
  • Peer Reviewed essays 7
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  1. Marked by a teacher

    Compare the presentation of the psychological effects of war on the individual in 'Regeneration' and 'Journey's End'.

    5 star(s)

    This reference shows the absence of the concept of time in the war, and the desperation of the soldiers for the fighting to end. Sherriff uses the aspect of food throughout the play, again through the character Trotter to create bathos, light-hearted relief against the true reality of death. Trotter's constant desire for food, "what a lovely smell of bacon!" and the humour created by this, "war's bad enough with pepper - but war without pepper it's- it's bloody awful" provides a contrast in the play, as it gives the audience a sense of normality, and shows a common way in which soldiers often escaped the horrors of the war.

    • Essay length: 2659 words
  2. Marked by a teacher

    The idea of the experiment is to determine which equation is correct. There are 2 equations of CuCo3 and I have to find out which gases are given off when CuCo3 is given off.

    5 star(s)

    It is a basic oxide forming copper (II) salts with acids. It decomposes above 1000ºC into copper (I) oxide and oxygen. CuO 2CuO(s) +CO2 (g) Heated CuO is reduced to metallic copper by hydrogen and CO2. Copper (II) oxide also reacts with acids to form blue salts. CuO(S)+H2SO4(aq) CuSo4(aq) +H2O(l) Copper (I) oxide is used in organic analysis, and as a catalyst in that thermal decomposition of potassium trioxochlorate (V). Copper (I) oxide Cu2O Copper (I) oxide is obtained by reducing an alkaline solution of copper (II) salts. It's colour is a red precipitate. This reaction is the one used to identify reducing sugars in the Fehling's and Benedict's tests. Copper (I) oxide reacts with dilute tetraoxosulphate (VI)

    • Essay length: 1517 words
  3. Marked by a teacher

    Explain how the poets of Happy is England Now in the anthology Up the Line to Death present World War I

    4 star(s)

    he makes sure that everything is not as it seems. It is almost as if Gardner is trying to give a subtle hint to the reader as to what might follow in the rest of the anthology. This is juxtaposed with the poems "Happy is England Now" ("Happy...") and "England to Her Sons" ("England..."), which are very pro-war. The contextual nature of the poets can be looked at to determine the way they present war. For example, although Hodgson wrote "England..." before the war started, nevertheless he knew that he was going to go there and fight.

    • Essay length: 2201 words
  4. Marked by a teacher

    Happy is England Now

    4 star(s)

    The theme of idealism can be seen in the phrase 'As the new passion stirring in their veins, When the destroying dragon wakes from sleep.' In the phrase England is personified to have passion building in its blood and body which is also ironic as during war there is a lot of blood shed. There is use of alliteration in 'destroying dragon' which is emphasising Germany as being a deadly beast. This also brings to mind the idea of George and the dragon where George is the saviour for England fighting for everyone which gives a sense of patriotism and is a use of propaganda to influence people to join the war effort.

    • Essay length: 1055 words
  5. Marked by a teacher

    Compare and Contrast the Two War Poems -'Dulce Et Decorum Est' and 'The Charge of The Light Brigade'

    4 star(s)

    He describes a valiant charge 'into the jaws of death' which gives the impression that they were brave and extremely noble to go through such terrible surroundings, like the cannons that 'volleyed and thundered' to cause their untimely death. Both poets came from different classes. Owen's background was working class whereas Tennyson's was upper class. Owen shared the voice of the people and could empathise with soldiers. However Tennyson had the views of an upper class citizen, and, in my opinion, he seemed to care more about his country than the soldiers.

    • Essay length: 1788 words
  6. Marked by a teacher

    Choose 3 poems by Wilfred Owen that look at different aspects of war. Compare how Owen deals with each aspect and consider what his overall message might be.

    4 star(s)

    In mid 1918 Owen began to think about publishing his work, however due to his untimely death he only got as far as selecting the poems he wanted to include. In addition he wrote a draft version of a preface for his collection of poems and this incomplete draft has become one of the most famous pieces in English literature. In this short statement Owen explains what he is writing for. He is not writing for something superficial or amusing, nor is he trying to entertain for a brief moment.

    • Essay length: 2395 words
  7. Marked by a teacher

    How does Blackadder Goes Forth satirize the First World War and how does it fit into the situation comedy genre as a whole?

    4 star(s)

    Blackadder goes forth is also different from the usual sit-com as it is the same situation every episode. The majority of sit-coms don't do this, instead they are based in the same place, but with a different humorous situation with which the characters have to deal with. In Blackadder Goes Forth the situation is exactly the same just the characters deal with it differently. The situation is that Blackadder himself is trying to escape and relieve himself of the hideous atrocities of the First World War.

    • Essay length: 2739 words
  8. Marked by a teacher

    Explore how the theme of love is presented in Birdsong and a selection of poems by Wilfred Owen.

    4 star(s)

    This image of fearlessness, commitment and love for your country was heavily supported and can be appreciated when reading the poetry of Jessie Pope. Her poems are often used to demonstrate the sentiments on the home front, and are commonly taught in opposition to the ideas of the major war poets, including Wilfred Owen. In particular, his poem Dulce Et Decorum Est is studied as a direct antagonism of Pope's views and beliefs¹. In this poem Owen's use of strong diction and vivid figurative language such as; "In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, He plunges at me, guttering,

    • Essay length: 2527 words
  9. Marked by a teacher

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

    4 star(s)

    The beginning of "Vitai Lampada" is very different to the beginning of "The Drum". "There's a breathless hush in the Close tonight - Ten to make and the match to win". There is no strong negative or positive emotive word like the word "hate" used at the start of "The Drum". The word "Close" is given a capital letter, implying that it might be the name of a stadium or pitch, not just the literal meaning of the word "close" - an enclosed space.

    • Essay length: 1010 words
  10. Marked by a teacher

    War poetry comparision The Drum & Dulce et Decorum est.

    4 star(s)

    John Scott who was a Quaker and opposed to all violence wrote "The Drum" in 1782. Wilfred Owen was a soldier in the First World War. The things that he witnessed during this time left him deeply scarred; he expressed his feelings in his poems. The title of the poem "The Drum" refers to the recruiting drum played around the countryside by the army. The Drum is associated with war and in this poem as well as in the poem "On The Idle Hill" its use is clear. The first verse gives us the background to the drums use.

    • Essay length: 1426 words
  11. Marked by a teacher

    Wilfred Owen's Anthem for Doomed Youth and Siegfried Sassoon's Attack - Explore the ways in which Sassoon's and Owen's words convey powerful feelings about the First World War in these two poems.

    4 star(s)

    Owen had the same views on the war but his work had not yet been published but when he met Sassoon at Craig Lockhart Hospital during the war Sassoon noticed his talent as a poet and it was there that Owen was most inspired writing poems such as 'Anthem for Doomed Youth'. Wilfred Owen's 'Anthem for Doomed Youth' is a fine example of a poem which attacks the glory of war. It starts with a rhetorical question- 'What passing bells for those who die as cattle?'

    • Essay length: 2023 words
  12. Marked by a teacher

    Compare and contrast the ways in which the theme of Human Suffering is presented in the novel Birdsong, by Sebastian Faulks and the poems of Wilfred Owen.

    4 star(s)

    However, when they got to the front lines these men found they had been lied to. They had to endure weather conditions so harsh that some of them froze to death or died of heat exposure, live in small wet trenches that had been dug into the ground and that would often be held up with the bodies of comrades they had had to watch being shot to pieces on the battle fields. The men that survived the war were angry and bitter, they felt that they had been raped of their youth and lied to by the government and army officials who had promised them that they would heroes.

    • Essay length: 2606 words
  13. Marked by a teacher

    Analysing Wilfred Owens' Poem Disabled.

    4 star(s)

    Now he has no leg. He wonders why he joined the army. He tries to impress people as they told him he would do well in the army. One reason he signed up was because his dear Meg would be pleased. At the time he was not afraid of being afraid. A soldiers biggest worry is being afraid. Owen says "And no fears of fear have come yet" He had thoughts of all the swords and other weaponry that he would receive in the army. He had great thoughts of wearing the smart uniform and making those proud salutes.

    • Essay length: 3637 words
  14. Marked by a teacher

    Analysis of Does It Matter? by Siegfried Sassoon

    4 star(s)

    Sassoon intentionally utilises this almost child-like perspective (given more strength through his nursery-rhyme structure and know-no-better naivety, or even the alliteration in the words 'losing' and 'legs' in the opening line) in order to emphasise the horrors war victims must endure by illuminating the completely incredible contrast. Sassoon continues to mask the graphic reality of war's aftermath by employing a euphemism in this first line - 'losing'. Clearly, if a soldier were to lose a limb in the First World War trenches (and such instances were not uncommon), it would be a bloody affair - either blown off by a shell, or sawed of in the chaos of the operating rooms amidst a tempest of pain.

    • Essay length: 1993 words
  15. Marked by a teacher

    Discuss the use of symbolism in the novel Fly Away Peter

    4 star(s)

    1 - Chpt. 1) In Jim's eye, the swamplands seem to be a good representation of the world, with the different types of birds representing the different cultures and nations. Just as in real life, we have the higher ranks of birds i.e. the hawks and kestrels, the smaller submissive pigeons and various ranks in between. Another strong symbol within the opening chapter of the novel is that of the bi-plane, which Jims observes, flying over the swamplands. The bi-plane is a disturbance to the birds, which is described as they "scattered and flew up in all directions." (Pg.

    • Essay length: 1800 words
  16. Marked by a teacher

    'Who for the Game' By Jesse Pope, 'Dulce Et Decorum Est' By Wilfred Owen, and 'Disabled' by Wilfred Owen.

    4 star(s)

    Verse one tells us a lot about the condition, both physically and mentally of the men and it gives us an idea of the appalling conditions! He portrays this by his continuous use of similes, metaphors and vocabulary. He uses similes such as, "Bent double, like hags", this simile shows how many of the men fall ill! Owen also uses metaphors such as, "Drunk with fatigue", to display how tired the men are, this metaphor leads us to believe that the men are so tired that they are unaware what is happening around them!

    • Essay length: 2509 words
  17. Marked by a teacher

    The causes of world war one

    4 star(s)

    Austria-Hungary This was two merged nations, Austria and Hungary. This contained many different nationalities, which all wanted to be free of the leadership, and govern themselves. The empire was falling apart. Russia In 1900 Russia was the largest country in the world, but she was also one of the poorest. The Russian population was massive, but most of their number lived in the western segment of the country, hardly anybody lived in the sub-zero climate of Siberia. Russia was rich in minerals, such as: gold, oil, coal, and iron ore etc.

    • Essay length: 4104 words
  18. Marked by a teacher

    Compare and contrast the ways in which the horrors of war are presented in Regeneration by Pat Barker and Journeys end

    3 star(s)

    The chosen medium for Journeys End is the theatre and this has benefits, but also creates problems. The staging on the theatre can show dim lights, flashes, sounds of trench fighting and no mans land, however the stage can only show detail up to a certain extent. For example, when Trotter says, "have your revolver to shoot rats". Although the stage can create sounds of scuffling and squeaking of the rats, it is unable to have real rats running around.

    • Essay length: 2112 words
  19. Marked by a teacher

    A Comparison of Wilfred Owen's 'Dulce et Decorum est' and Lord Tennyson's

    3 star(s)

    Tennyson uses repetition frequently to show the power and force of the cavalry, he also uses several powerful images trying to put the British in as the winning people. In comparison Owen uses many different rhythmic lines. "Bent doubles, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-need, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, Till on the haunting flares we turned our back And towards our distant rest began to trudge." The rhythm of the language changes according to what the soldiers are doing, there they are tired and finding it difficult to walk, their steps are slow and laboured like language.

    • Essay length: 1154 words
  20. Marked by a teacher

    Alfred Tennyson and Wilfred Owen present different ideas about war in their poems, "The Charge of the Light Brigade" and "Dulce et Decorum est". Write about these poems and their effect on you.

    3 star(s)

    The final stanza is a message from the poet to "honour the Light Brigade" and not to forget what the six hundred men did. The poem has a constant rhyming pattern all the way through with words like "blundered", "hundred", "thundered" and "wondered" or "shell", "fell" and "well". Having this rhyming pattern throughout makes the poem seem to flow more easily and gives it a more prominent structure. It emulates the pace of the battle which was over in twenty minutes.

    • Essay length: 973 words
  21. Marked by a teacher

    Presentation of In Flanders Fields - script

    3 star(s)

    This seems to distance the natural world from the world of war, as if they don't belong together. * This symbolises how the world carried on bravely despite the war, but the sweet, nice things could not be heard, as they were drowned out by the sounds of war. * The military imagery of the guns is in great contrast to the beautiful natural imagery that came before and is a shock as you realise that the deaths mentioned earlier are still happening.

    • Essay length: 1405 words
  22. Marked by a teacher

    Compare the ways in which Owen, Brooke and the Sassoon portray WW1

    3 star(s)

    In contrast Brooke writes to men to men to encourage theme to enlist and join the war. "A pulse in the eternal mind" This suggests that Brooke believes the soldiers will always be remembered for fighting for England... Whereas Brooke has a patriotic and idealistic attitude, Sassoon and Owen have a stark hate towards war. "The old lie: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mon" We can see very clearly from this how Owen feels towards war. He doesn't see the point of going over to another country and fighting for a piece of land. Equally Sassoon feels the same.

    • Essay length: 839 words
  23. Marked by a teacher

    Compare 'The Drum' by John Scott and 'The Send-off' by Wilfred Owen

    3 star(s)

    Another way Scott effectively presents his ideas is by using different language in each of the stanzas. In the first stanza it shows what the drum means to the young lads who dream of being a soldier. This gives a positive view on sacrifice, as it uses words like 'fall', which is very romanticised language. This stanza gives the idea that is very heroic and brave to die for ones country. In total contrast the second stanza shows John Scott's views on war and he shows the death that occurs is more slaughter than sacrifice. Instead of using romanticised language he says 'And mangled limbs, and dying groans,' This view gives a more graphic and realistic image to what war was really like.

    • Essay length: 1241 words
  24. Marked by a teacher

    Show how Winifred M. Letts in

    3 star(s)

    Winifred M. Letts chose, in line 8, the phrase, "Yearns to live and not die" This creates a dramatic emphasis on how he longed and struggled to be free of the war, and go home to his family and safety. In line 13 the use of the phrase, "With eyes as wild" Gives the interpretation that he is not thinking properly, he is frightened and on edge, ready to snap at any moment. He will not listen to anyone and is alert because of the sickness of wanting to be home and worry of him getting caught.

    • Essay length: 1076 words
  25. Marked by a teacher

    Critical Response: 'The Sentry' by Wilfred Owen.

    3 star(s)

    Owen uses alliteration to convey the persistent and constant rain and levels of water and mud. "clay" indicates the mud's swampy thickness and which connotes a fast drying sludge and near impossible conditions. "Waist high" again enforces the height of the water that the men had to fight through, which suggests that the men not only had to fight the battle against the opposition, they were also waging a war with the conditions. Owen's use of imagery continues throughout the stanza, when he depicts the sounds and smells of the trenches: "What murk of air remained stank old, and sour

    • Essay length: 1286 words

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • To what extent are the 'war' poems you have read protesting the wars they describe?

    "In conclusion, readers infer that all poems mentioned deal with the same theme and present the same moral. They deal with soldiers who have lost their lives as a result to the war, there deaths may not seem for a cause in all five poems. They contain a different historical context. Hardy portrays war as a wasteful event when he links himself to Jesus, who's death was meaningful. He shows readers how man neglects those in need and how nature plays the role of our mother, through both of his poems. Whitman, again visualilses death as waste yet he personally engages with the victim of the war. This contrast can be as a result of him 'nursing' the injured and dead during the time of the Civil War. He brings life to the dead and responds to them himself, whereas Hardy allows nature to respond to the dead making his poem impersonal. I personally think all poems are very effective due to the contrast between the style of the poets. They allow us to see the effects of war in which they lived through two different approaches. Mahmoud El Hazek English Coursework 04-02-03 Rough Draft Mr. A. Thirkell 1"

  • Wilfred Owen Poems - Discuss how Owen conveys the pity and horror of war in these two poems.

    "When I first found out in Mr. Spahr's class that we were going to do War poetry coursework I feared, I wouldn't admire Wilfred Owens's work as I don't really like war poetry as most writers/poets talk about the glory and honour of war, which I find foolish as I believe wars are a waste of life and money. However, Owen is indeed different he wrote to inform the ordinary person the, "Untold truth" of war and in his work he criticises the government too, who sent an entire generation to their doom. Furthermore, in his work unlike others, Owen makes you feel devastating pity for the soldiers involved in the war and this made me realise what an absolute genius Wilfred Owen really is."

  • Compare and contrast the work of Owen and Heller in their treatment of war.

    "The facetious nature of Catch 22 rather fittingly exemplifies Heller's resentment and rebellion towards conventional attitudes to war. In my opinion, to use General Peckem's words 'It never escaped his memory that neither black nor white was a colour' would to some extent help explain his motives for using humour in this novel. Heller uses humour as an attack against the established panorama of war. Peckems words evoke a subtle question, why should we observe the world in black and white and decide where things are and are not appropriate? Humour rebels against our subconscious extraction of its presence, fighting against the norm. Of course, If Owen where to adopt a similar humorous approach to his work, this would perhaps vanquish his objective to resist any poetic skill or effort. In the same way, Heller uses a character like Milo to 'paint' over the American ethos, Owen uses this technique to demonstrate how war has encroached the beauty of laughter. 'Treading blood from lungs that had loved laughter'. Owen gives blood a kind of discomforting persona. It becomes the enemy that has taken over territory, pre-occupying the lungs."

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