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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.

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

    • Word count: 3637
  2. 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.

    • Word count: 4104
  3. Marked by a teacher

    A Comparison of "Who's for the Game" and "Dulce et Decorum est".

    3 star(s)

    It gives the idea it will be easy to cope with and that it will be fun. "the red crashing game of a fight" In this line the word 'Game is used again, the word fight in this means a small harmless fight. Pope does this as it makes the poem sound light hearted and persuasive. It makes the poem persuasive, as many people would want to join up for the war if it was how pope made it sound, 'like a Game'. Pope also uses words like "who'll grip and tackle the job" This language is normally associated in games.

    • Word count: 3490
  4. Marked by a teacher

    Compare and contrast attitudes to war illustrated in Jessie Pope’s ‘Who’s for the game?’ and Wilfred Owen’s ‘Dulce etDecorum est’ and ‘Disabled’.

    3 star(s)

    He also wanted to obliterate the image of war created by war propaganda. Wilfred Owen particularly hated Jessie Pope because of her lighthearted attitude towards war portrayed in her poems. Wilfred Owen was finally machine-gunned to death a week before the armistice was signed. 'Who's for the Game?' was a poem written by Jessie Pope used as a piece of propaganda telling men to recruit. It exploits the fact that it was every man's duty to fight on behalf of his country.

    • Word count: 3373
  5. Peer reviewed

    The World of words in Wilfred Owens Anthem For Doomed Youth and Dulce Et Decorum Est

    5 star(s)

    The title, Anthem for Doomed Youth', gives the first impression of the poem. An anthem is a song of praise, perhaps sacred, so we get the impression that the poem might me about something religious or joyous. However, the Anthem is for Doomed Youth is obviously negative. The title basically summarizes what the poem is; a mixture of thoughts related to religion and death, irony, and cynicism. The poem doesn't slowly start to focus on the point he's making: there is an immediacy of war with the usage of present tense. Plus, it starts with a rhetorical question.

    • Word count: 3520
  6. Compare the ways that Sebastian Faulks and the war poets present ordinary men's

    The officers were the only ones whilst the war was been fought believed to be articulate enough to recount their war stories. Ironically Sassoon protested against the war and was sent to Craiglockhart hospital to 'recover'. He was sent for writing a letter of protest to his Colonel stating his alarm at the political errors that he felt were leading to the unnecessary sacrifice of soldiers lives. Sassoon believed that the war was being continued longer than was necessary by those who had the power to end it.

    • Word count: 3144
  7. In what ways did the attitudes of soldiers and civilians change towards the war and towards the enemy between 1914 and 1918?

    Many soldiers in the trenches also developed trench foot and caught lice which further disheartened the soldiers. The weather was a key to the morale of men. The weather caused an infection known as trench foot or gangrene. This infection was caused by soldier's feet in mud or water for very long periods of time. After a while the skin would become so moist that it would just fall off or in some cases, it would rip off causing the soldier to be in a lot of pain.

    • Word count: 3046
  8. History - World War One

    One woman remembered her father, Robert Smith, being given a feather: "That night he came home and cried his heart out. My father was no coward, but had been reluctant to leave his family. He was thirty-four and my mother, who had two young children, had been suffering from a serious illness. Soon after this incident my father joined the army." The idea was to make the people who received the feathers unpatriotic and this caused them to feel guilty and in some cases leave there family straight away and go to join the forces.

    • Word count: 7224
  9. comparison of war poems

    He praises their actions and shows them as caring nurses who were prepared to take on any task without giving a care for their own selves. In The Hyaenas Kipling writes about the unfortunate fate of the soldiers that are dead and buried. He talks about the scavenging Hyaenas that would come and uproot the bodies of these helpless humans and eat them lavishly, thriving on the dead meat. He does not blame them for doing this but rather it is their instincts and habit.

    • Word count: 3154
  10. The long and the short and the tall

    Talking in this way suggests that he is somewhat cheeky as well. By acting this way, he also provides a sense of comic relief and humour that develops a relationship between him and the audience. Hall also introduces Bamforth's first stage direction, 'Bamforth shrugs off his pack, places it as a pillow on the form, and makes himself comfortable'. This describes Bamforth's casual, careless and selfish attitude as he is making himself at home rather than showing awareness for the hospitality of his fellow comrades.

    • Word count: 3220
  11. Coursework on Trenches

    There were at least three lines of trenches on either side of 'no man's land'. Support trenches and reserve trenches supported a front - line trench. Communication trenches connected all these trenches. Communication lines were responsible for passing messages from trench to trench. On many occasions, communication lines failed and as a result, many soldiers were killed - as shown by this source (British Army commander): "... the communication line failed. My fellow soldiers came out to late and were heavily wounded, some even died."

    • Word count: 3143
  12. Compare and contrast the poets' attitudes to war in 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' by Alfred, Lord Tennyson and 'Dulce et Decorum Est' by Wilfred Owen

    The fourth and fifth stanzas are the middle of the poem because they are about the battle between both the armies. The last two stanzas are the end because it is about the retreatment of the army. The poet writes his poem in six stanzas because the soldiers knew that they were going to die. Tennyson capitalises the word 'Death' in his poem because death here has been personified. In the poem, stanza four is the turning point of the whole poem there are three stanzas before the turning point because it is heavier, Tennyson makes it heavier because at the start of the poem there were over six hundred soldiers but then after the turning point (i.e.

    • Word count: 3545
  13. In What Different Ways Do the Poets Portray War?Before Agincourt', 'The Charge of the Light Brigade', 'The Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna', 'The Destruction of Sennacherib', and finally 'The Eve of Waterloo'.

    This begins the antithesis which is one of the key factors of this poem. During the poem it appears as though Henry V is creating a balanced argument of good and bad, but he twists all the bad points into good ones, such as "The fewer men, the greater share of honour." This quest for honour is a central point and is regularly mentioned, Henry makes it clear that the battles is not one for treasure but purely for glory. He states that he himself is covetous, but only for honour, stating a negative point which is, in reality a positive one.

    • Word count: 3152
  14. In what ways did the attitudes of soldiers and civilians change towards the war and towards the enemy between 1914 and 1918?

    By the 8th September, both sides began to dig trenches to protect themselves from artillery fire and snipers. These were the first signs of a stalemate. The British and in particularly the French fought heroically to stop the advance and the fighting was intense: "[That] French soldiers who have retreated for ten days, sleeping on the ground and half-dead with fatigue, should be able to take up their rifles when the bugle sounds is a thing which we never expected," said a German army commander. This quote also shows that the conditions of living on both sides were horrendous and if anything conditions got worse as the war progressed, particularly in winter.

    • Word count: 4392
  15. Why was Trench Warfare so terrible

    British trenches German trenches This is a basic diagram of a type 1 fire trench; it is quite narrow given that it would have to hold a soldier and his equipment. The enemy side would be to the left; there is a one foot parapet. There is another earth bank behind the trench (the parados) to stop back blast from enemy shells. As the depth below ground is 3 foot 6 inches and the parapet is one foot above ground, the total cover was 4 foot 6 inches (about 1, 4 m).

    • Word count: 4090
  16. Compare and consider the ways Tennyson and Owen present war in "The Charge of the Light Brigade" and "Dulce et Decorum Est"

    Firstly, Tennyson's purpose was to glorify war and the sacrifices made by soldiers whilst Owens intention was to describe the horrors and tragedies of war. Tennyson was the Poet Laureate and therefore an establishment figure. This may have led him to write what amounted to propaganda as he would want to encourage respect for soldiers and their sense of duty. Tennyson was not a serving soldier but read about the war. Obviously, this could have led to a more detached view of battle.

    • Word count: 3438
  17. How and why do National Cemetery/Memorials built in the 1920's commemorate those who died in World War One in such different ways?

    Compared to the Germans however they are very memorable and forgiving. As you look at the German cemetery at Langemarck you see that it is much more out of place and hidden away. The graves are flat and low and very insignificant. This is probably because the Germans lost the war and therefore maybe may Germans didn't want to remember that they lost in the war. As well as this none of the German soldiers had single graves o themselves (as in British cemeteries) and many were shared between 4-40 people in a single grave.

    • Word count: 3405
  18. GCSE War Poetry Essay Is it Sweet and Fitting to die for your country? War begins with everybody caught up

    The final message conveyed in 'The Drum' is how the government's attempt to cover up the atrociousness and how horrendous the reality of war has on these innocent lives. 'Dulce et Decorum est' is just point after point filled with horrific details of war to get the best effect of the poem. The title 'Dulce et Decorum est' meaning 'it is sweet and proper to die for your country' is the complete antithesis of the reality of war; instead he is opposed to all those in favour of war and mocks them with bitter ironic satire.

    • Word count: 3036
  19. A comparison of Tennyson's, 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' and Wilfred Owen's 'Dulce et Decorum Est'.

    When the order came through by the General "Forward the Light brigade", and on this order the Light Brigade charged. Alfred Tennyson must have used this direct order in the poem because he wanted to show immediately that 'charge' wasn't the correct order, he just rein acted what actually happened with his poetry. He could have used the full order, which included more detail, but he stuck with the simple one so that he could get the message across quickly.

    • Word count: 3477
  20. How does Owen stress the true horror of the First World War, and how is his poetry influenced by the work of propaganda poets such as Harold Begbie and Jessie pope

    In hindsight we can see how delusional people were, manipulated into dismissing the truth. Wilfred Owen was one of the most recognised war poets during the war. Owen's poems would illustrate the true dangers of war with the focus being on the young men who had been almost forced to join the army. Owen's style of writing was in contrast with those of Harold Begbie and Jessie Pope. Begbie and Pope would write poems playing upon the concerns of young men and glorifying the war.

    • Word count: 3917
  21. Many measures were taken in Bexley to protect people from the effects of air attack. Firstly, Britain introduced the post of ARP (air raid precautions) wardens to all places where people lived

    The Anderson shelter could withstand everything apart from a direct hit. The moment people in their homes heard the air raid siren they would go into their shelters until the all clear was given. There shelters in the workplace as well in case you were working. These were obviously much larger as more people needed to fit into them. Public shelters were also built incase a person was out on the streets shopping, for example. People were encouraged however to make as much use of private home shelters.

    • Word count: 3103
  22. In what ways were the lives of people at home affected by the First World War

    Women now had opportunities that they never had before the war and men's attitudes also changed towards women some were embarrassed to have a woman doing a 'man's job'. People's lives over all were greatly affected and would affect future generation's lives. Throughout the war thousands of young men joined the army to fight for King and Country. Various posters like the example of Source A1 were used. Source A1 shows the State Secretary of State for War Lord Kitchener.

    • Word count: 3632
  23. Compare and contrast the two poems "Dulce et Decorum Est" (Owen) with "Charge of the Light Brigade" (Tennyson), paying particular attention to the writers' attitude to war.

    As war progressed, so did the views of those who originally believed war was righteous. People could not ignore the pain and suffering, they began to feel great pity. Wilfred Owen, possibly the greatest war poet, often wrote of the tragedy. He wrote many poems but one which very effectively captures the sad and horrific truth is " Dulce et Decorum est " The poem almost lets us experience what the unfortunate soldiers had to endure. We feel the mental anguish encountered by men suffering in the helpless situation of a gas attack. The two poems are different whether in style, language, or mood.

    • Word count: 3627
  24. 'A Comparison Of Differing Views/Attitudes To War With Reference To Regeneration, Strange Meeting, Selected Poetry and A Journeys End'

    Some poems were a device to raise the morale of young men to encourage them to go to war. In Jessie Pope's, 'Who's For The Game', the fact that she is a women emphasises the reason to go to war. Pope personifies the country as a 'She', which vaguely gives the image of a man impressing a woman. 'And she's looking and calling for you' Pope has created an extremely lighthearted poem, which can't be taken seriously at all, as she refers to the war as being a 'game'.

    • Word count: 3088
  25. Why is it so difficult to know what soldiers thought? About life on the Western Front

    already beaten France once in a different battle so in a way they were very excited about the war because now they would have a chance to get revenge on Germany for beating them in the other battle. So the French weren't very happy when it came to the Germans their attitudes would be quite rude. The British were also quite unfair because they and the French made short films to persuade people to sign up for the war. These films would usually show a German beating a British solsier, a baby and their mother.

    • Word count: 3587

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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