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English War poetry 1

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Discuss how a variety of Pre-1914 poets treat the theme of war. You should discuss 5 or 6 poems comparing and contrasting them. In this essay, I will focus upon the attitudes people held towards war in the pre 1914 era by studying the language and cultural context used over a number of poems. The poems I will be examining are: The Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna by Charles Wolfe, The Charge of the Light Brigade, by Alfred Lord Tennyson, Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night, by Walt Whitman, Before Agincourt, by William Shakespeare, and Henry V at the Siege of Harfleur, also by William Shakespeare. There are a number of conflicting views represented in this essay. War around the time of 1914 was looked upon as a number of things, e.g. a sport, noble and honourable, and war itself was generally very glorified, meaning most people around this time felt very patriotic to the idea of war. This theme is represented in a number of the poems that will be examined in this essay, and each poem will each be looked at in turn. The Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna is written using a basic A B A B rhyming scheme. ...read more.


Shakespeare also speaks of war as being full of honour, saying 'the fewer men, the greater share of honour' meaning the men remaining alive will have a greater amount of honour, also showing that participating in a war will gain you honour, a very typical view held by most before 1914. Also, Henry is written by Shakespeare to say 'if it be a sin to covet honour, I am the most offending soul alive'. This shows that most people around this time would be fighting for honour, showing how war was regarded around this time. He also says fighting for his country is an honour - 'I would not lose so great an honour' - again showing patriotism. He also says that those who survive will remember this day, and be proud, showing the view held by people of this era towards the theme of war. Henry also says that people will be jealous of them for fighting at Agincourt after the battle, saying men at home, when the subject of Agincourt arises will 'hold their manhood's cheap'. He also shows the view of war being a thing of brotherhood and honour, by saying 'we few, we happy few, we band of brothers' as this shows they are happy to fight alongside each other for their country. ...read more.


He also uses alliteration 'saber stroke, shattered and sundered' and 'stormed at with shot and shell' which further creates a high sense of drama during the charge. Exclamation marks here also inject drama. Tennyson uses continuous repetition to create a kind of military drum roll as it is a military poem. Tennyson also uses false rhyme of blundered, hundred, thundered and sundered here, most likely to represent the blunder made that caused the charge. This shows that Tennyson has a negative feeling towards this battle. He later however deems the six hundred as 'noble' showing they are brave. Tennyson also uses the rhetorical question 'when can their glory fade?' showing they gained glory from this battle, showing that war was regarded in this time to bestow the participators of the war with glory. It also says in the last stanza to honour the six hundred, further showing the view that war was a thing of honour. From these poems examined, you learn that War was treated in most eras before the change that came with 1914 as something of a sport, that was full of honour, and glory, and filled with bravery and courageous acts, and to a large extent, a lot of patriotism, with a large number of people willing to die for their country. Word Count 2116 ...read more.

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