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How do E A Mackintosh and Katherine Tynan Hinkson describe 'going off to war' in "Recruiting" and "Joining the Colours"?

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Introduction

How do E A Mackintosh and Katherine Tynan Hinkson describe 'going off to war' in these poems? Both 'Recruiting' (by Mackintosh) and 'Joining the Colours' (by Hinkson) are poems describing the effect of propaganda in WWI and the attitude of soldiers during 1914. However, the two poets used different techniques to express the message they are trying to give. 'Recruiting' is an anti-propaganda poem which provides the reader the reality of war and the actual meaning of propaganda. It emphases the way propagandas provoke nationalism and heroism. This can be seen in Mackintosh's expression of Germans as "Huns" (L.6). The fact that Germans are demonised leads us to consider the reliability of propagandas. Later on in the poem, when Germans are described as "Huns" (L.30) again, we cannot imagine them as "wicked foe" (L.22) anymore, but we feel pity for them, as they are just the same as every soldier fighting. The poem also portrays the brutality of war, where all these propagandas are mere message of soldiers are dying and reinforcement is needed. ...read more.

Middle

It shows the reality of war instead of the heroic description of propaganda. In "Joining the Colours", the poems describe how happy the soldiers were in 1914. The word "gay" (L.1) suggests how they are all enjoying war and their attitude towards war is carefree. They look almost as though they are "going to a wedding day" (L.3), where they are "singing like the lark" (L.6) and "whistles [,] mouth-organs". The soldiers don't understand how dangerous war is because they are "foolish and young" (L.11), they feel like it is heroic and bring glory to the family. However, the poet also shows signs of death and dark implication. He suggests the horror of war using the personification of soldiers being "food for shells and guns" (L.2). The idea of "wedding day" (L.3) might be a sarcastic expression of death and lost of family instead of joy and happiness. Their "singing" (L.7) also has another meaning. The phrase "in the dark" (L.8) suggests that their music can be victorious music or funeral music. ...read more.

Conclusion

Both of the poems are written in the First World War and are similar as they are about soldiers going to war. "Joining The Colours" conveys the message where everyone was happy when the war starts while "Recruiting" reveals the reality behind propaganda. Both Hinkson and Mackintosh tries to give us an impression that war is bad. This can be seen in "Recruiting" - "gallant sacrifice" (L.40), where he believes that going to war is mere sacrifice. "Joining the Colours" also suggest that war is suicide, saying "They pipe the way to ... grave" (L.10). The rhyming scheme in "Joining the Colours" is ABAB, increasing the flow of the poem thus expresses the happiness of soldiers. In "Recruiting", there is some sort of rhyming scheme yet it is not very clear. Both poems have also made use of sentence structure. In 'Recruiting', trochaic meter is used to give an impression of soldiers marching. In 'Joining the Colors', iambic meter is used to make the poem sounds elegy and sad. Hinkson's poem is, in a way, more sophisticated and more complex than Mackintosh's. To conclude, although the two poems express their opinions to war differently, both describe the reality of war accurately. ?? ?? ?? ?? Adrian Tam (G) ...read more.

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