• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How is the horror of war, and the poets'criticism of war conveyed in the war poems?

Extracts from this document...


How is the horror of war, and the poets' criticism of war. Conveyed in the war poems? Poetry written in the English language has a long and fascinating history. Like other creative arts, poetry began in service to communities. Its function was to aid the memory and enshrine in its rhythmic diction the history of the tribe such as the First World War. Over the centuries it became a way in which people could communicate not only in stories but also Ideas and emotions in an imaginative and expressive way. One characteristic has remained: through out the history of poetry-making, poems have provided a commentary - often critical-on what people, communities and nations do. More than any other conflict, the Great War inspired writers of all generations and classes. The patriotic ideals and the concept of war were all dismantled when soldiers returned from war and spoke of the horrors of war peoples attitudes began to change. Poets like Wilfred Owen wrote poetry to show his experience of war and also to bring people out of this disillusionment. He also wanted to obliterate the image of war created by war propaganda. What has war brought? Misery, sorrow and problems? It surely brings nothing more than a mood of desolation and emptiness where great sacrifices bring little gain. Everywhere in the world are heard the sounds of things breaking, the echoes of the world shattering. These echoes are the sounds of change as the conflicting nations are transformed socially, politically, economically and intellectually into a machine of complete destruction. Poets have been writing about war for many years. The experiences of war was so horrifying and so intense that it provoked an intensity event in history. The result was that vast numbers of young men who under normal circumstances would never have become soldiers enlisted in the forces. The two poets that will be mentioned are Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. ...read more.


The hardships of war are also described in this poem the lonesome dark and the winter cold but this did not seem to effect this small soldier he is happy and has no problems. This boy did not seem phase with any of the problems. "In winter trenches, cowed and glum. And whistled early with lark" The poem however does take a sudden and unexpected turn as in the seventh line we find out that this boy shot himself through the head. "He put a bullet through his brain No-one spoke of him again." In verse 2, line 1 Owen refers the mad gusts of tugging on the wire. He is referring to the vigorous movement of the barbed wire, describing the barbed wire to brambles. As the wind tugs on the wire it reminds him of the men who got caught on it and are left to die. He uses a simile affectively to generate a feeling to add to the tenseness of things. 'Like Twitching agonies of men among its brambles. Northward, incessantly, the flickering gunnery rumbles, The poet mentions the continuous artillery pieces firing. This is a typical war scene. It conveys the horror of war, exposing the harshness and crucial-ness. He literally means when some one is injured and falls the soldiers suffer. It is a significance, referring towards soldiers fighting. It is all a collective suffering; suffering from injuries and dealing with the atmosphere of the trenches. Owen most probably uses 'brambles' for a pleasant country image. Brambles are thorns or barbs on wire which were used to prevent soldiers from entering designated areas. Far off, like a dull rumour of some other war, What are we doing here? The fourth line is forming a likeness of them being removed from the war but in reality they are not. It is just their vivid imagination leading them to elaborate with their thoughts and illusions. 'What are we doing here?' the poet asks in the last line of verse 2. ...read more.


This is where Owen 's real purpose reveals itself, as he makes the point that the enemy is not the 'other-side', nor the machines or the civilians at home, but rather humanity. His purpose being to show the reader that war is wrong, because it forces soldiers to renounce their humanity in order to survive. Unlike Sassoon, Owen avoided a bitter or sarcastic approach and never wrote in a cynical tone. He was not interested in the momentary feelings of shock at the war, which was the usual response of the often quite brilliant satirical or ironic pieces of his contemporaries. Owen strove for something more permanent. The Owen's work leaves one with an enduring sense of the tragedy of war. He used his strong sense of resentment to create a feeling of compassion. He would attempt to fix the scenery of the war firmly in the mind of the reader and in this way more poignantly stress the tremendous suffering that constitutes "the pity of war". When describing incidents in the war Owen often used half- or para-rhyme to create a dissonant effect as the reader expects the rhyme to be completed but it is not--and by making the second word lower in pitch than the first, feelings of melancholy, failure and despair are conveyed. One of Owen's most effective methods was to end a poem in an unexpected way, creating a feeling of disorientation. It must be stressed that Owen seems to convey the horror of war more than Sassoon. Exposure is a very detailed poem; it gives background information on how soldiers truly felt within the duration of war. A reader would feel that the other two poems by Sassoon are too vague and do not express the extreme conditions. There is no patriotism, action, bravery or hope in Exposure, instead a feeling Of vulnerability in the face of human enemy but even more the whether and its destructive power: Dawn massing in the east her melancholy army Attacks once more in ranks on shivering ranks of grey ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level War Poetry section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level War Poetry essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Wilfred Owen's Anthem for Doomed Youth and Siegfried Sassoon's Attack - Explore the ways ...

    4 star(s)

    time it ticks another soldier has been killed as if it is the fault of the ticking of their watches that the soldiers are dying. Sassoon is trying to get this point across more strongly by using the alliteration and it could be interpreted that Sassoon is asking for the

  2. How does Wilfred Owen present the horror and reality of war in his poems?

    He describes the soldiers as tired, dirty and bloody. He uses the metaphor blood - shot to cleverly illustrate the wounded soldiers, comparing them to blood-shot eyes. All this contradicts to the image people had of soldiers back at home.

  1. In this essay I will be comparing the way that Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred ...

    The poem 'Rear Guard' has a very irregular verse pattern, and 'Strange Meeting' does not have verses at all it is all in one. The second difference is that in the poem 'Rear Guard' the poet has used figurative language for example; 'stinking'.

  2. Compare the war poetry of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon - Include an analysis ...

    Sassoon then wrote letters of complaint to the government explaining that war was a waste of life.

  1. The Poems of World War One Can Be Broadly Divided into Three Waves of ...

    He suggests that death is a good thing in the line "These laid the world away." He almost infers that death is an escape from life and the world, but then he admits that so many young men being killed is a loss with the words "gave up the years."

  2. In Flanders Fields by John McCrae, and Suicide In The Trenches by Siegfried Sassoon, ...

    It is very abrupt, and comes out of the blue. "No one spoke of him again." All his fellow soldiers are ashamed of what he did to himself. He left them, and didn't have to courage to go on. It was a shameful, and easy way out.

  1. Using selected poems by Wilfred Owen, Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon analyse the poets ...

    smothering dreams, you too could pace Behind the wagon that we flung him in..." Owen makes the poem more personal to the reader, he does this in order to make the poem have a great effect on the reader. He puts the reader in a hypothetical situation.

  2. World War I: Propaganda

    what she was talking about in her poetry because she didn't have the first hand experience he did about what the war was really like, and she shouldn't comment on what she hadn't experienced. One of Jesse Pope's most famous recruitment poems was in fact "Who's for the game".

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work