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How did the attitudes towards war change over a period of time?

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Introduction

How did the attitudes towards war change over a period of time? This essay will discuss the way attitudes towards war have changed over a period of time. Famous poets who express the attitude to war current at the time they were writing wrote all the four poems I will discuss and compare. The start of war poetry began during the Roman era with Horace. Horace said "Dulce et Decorum est pro patria mori", this means 'it is sweet and proper to die for ones country'. This is in favour of the war. Horace considered that war is a chance to make a hero of yourself; it is patriotic and heroic to die for your country as you are doing your duty as a citizen of your country. During the Victorian times the most prolific war poet of the time was Tennyson. He agreed with Horace's quote and fully backed this idea in his poems, The Charge of the Light Brigade and The Revenge. Tennyson wrote The Charge of the Light Brigade during the time of the Crimean War, 1853-1856. This was a major point in time relative to war poetry. At the start of World War I Brooke, a very popular war poet of his time, focused his poetry mainly on the celebration of war and how it was a chance to leave the boredom of the home front and to make a hero of yourself. He believed the war was a blessing from God as it was something exciting and patriotic to look forward to. Brooke backed Horace's quote. The attitude to the war of the time was seen as a celebration. This was soon to change as people became increasingly familiar with the horrors of war. Wilfred Owen 1893-1918, was the only one out of the four poets I will compare that disagreed with Horace's quote, he called this the 'old lie' as it was not relative for the time. ...read more.

Middle

Brooke changes some of the words like death to represent sleep and how it is calm and silent. " A pulse in the eternal mind, no less... Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day... In hearts at peace, under an English heaven" These quotes show how Brooke has represented death in a positive way as sleep and how when you die, you are at peace in heaven and will forever be commemorated. The pulse quoted shows how the beats of his heart will continue to pump all the nobility and jingoistic feelings out of him. Peace also written by Brooke comments on the spiritual rewards through death on the battlefield. By going to war it is a release and that if you die you will go to heaven and forever be commemorated as a hero. During World War I the most popular poet of the time was Wilfred Owen. Owen was the only poet out of the four poets I have discussed that disagreed with Horace's notion 'dulce et decorum'. Owen renamed Horace's quote as the 'old lie'; this is because he believed that it was out of date. The new weaponry and artillery of the World War I caused mass destruction and death. However in the Roman era the bravest and skilful soldier would win as they fought face-to-face with swords. Owen was the only poet that had experienced the full horrors and fright of the war. Owen served on the front line in the trenches. He was less patriotic than the others behind him as he witnessed all the suffering and wondered if all the death was worth the patriotism. Compared to Tennyson and Brooke who supported Horace's quote, Owen disagreed and this is clearly shown in his two poems Anthem for Doomed Youth and Dulce Et Decorum Est. Owen is very honest with his words as they show his true feelings of the war. ...read more.

Conclusion

He was much admired for his poetry and technical skills - his ability to fit just the right words into just the right rhythm. When Horace was around the attitude was jingoistic as the best soldier won the battle which was face-to-face. Horace's quote, 'dulce et decorum' carried on throughout time up to Tennyson. The attitude towards war did not change as Tennyson represented the view that war was a glorification of life. Tennyson, born in 1809 won many prizes for his poetry and was much admired by Queen Victoria. He backed up Horace's notion. It was a chance to fight for your country and faith. Tennyson believed that soldiers should fight for their country and their nobility and nothing more. Brooke, born in 1887 was very gifted and died during World War I. The same attitude towards war did not change drastically as Brooke represented the view that fighting for your country was also heroic and should be commemorated. In his poem Peace, he claims that by going to war you are releasing yourself and going to heaven. He believed in Horace's quote 'dulce et decorum'. Brooke believed his generation was lucky as they were able to go to war and prove their nobility. Owen believed that war was not the glorious, noble act that the rest of his past poets believed. He thought war was horrific and tormenting. Owen believed that after death it was calm and peaceful, but the actions that led to death were disgusting and inhuman. He shows this in his poem Dulce Et Decorum Est, where he describes the death and horrors vividly. Owen's attitude changed as man was becoming more progressive in making artillery and weapons. Instead of fighting battles with say spears and swords, Owen had observed war guns and bombs. So rather than a soldier dying fighting with his hands, Owen saw soldiers dying by being blown to pieces by bombs. So maybe, this is why Owen disagrees with Horace's attitude to war. English Coursework Sherrick Chavda 10JF War Poetry ...read more.

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