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

"Referring to two or more poems, and using at least one written before 1900, compare how poets have treated the theme of war in their work."

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Chris Russell Assignment A: Response to Poetry "Referring to two or more poems, and using at least one written before 1900, compare how poets have treated the theme of war in their work." To me, war brings to mind death, misery and very little good when compared to the suffering it causes. However, I also believe that in extreme cases, war can be justified. For example, when the situation that cannot be resolved by other means would be better off after a war. The attitudes of poets towards war have always been expressed vigorously in their poetry, each poet either condoning or condemning war, and justifying their attitudes in whatever way possible. I aim to explore two opposing portrayals of war before and during the twentieth century, and also the structures and devices poets use to convey their views persuasively, and justify them. 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' was written by Alfred Lord Tennyson to commemorate the botched attack at Balaclava, during the Crimean War in 1854. In this charge, six hundred British soldiers were slaughtered when they were ordered to attack the wrong valley. The soldiers, on horseback, bravely charged into the South Valley near Kadikoi and were engulfed in cannon fire. In the poem, the first stanza gives an account of the order given. The second stanza tells of how the soldiers did not question their order, but courageously carried it out. ...read more.

Middle

However, this assumption is far from the truth. The particular incident that this poem is about is a gas attack on British troops while they are marching to their rest area. The poet describes witnessing one of his fellow soldiers not being able to put on his gas mask in time. This soldier dies a painful death and the images of this haunt Owen for a long time. In the very first line of the poem, the way the poet describes the soldiers shocks you, because it is so unsoldierlike: "Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags..." These are supposed to be the men defending your country, but the language does not inspire confidence. The men are metaphorically described "Drunk with fatigue" from the ordeal that they have experienced and want nothing more then rest. They are so tired they are zombie like. "Men marched asleep." These men are mere shadows of those who started out on this adventurous journey. The first stanza contains many words which makes the reader think of tiredness. For example, "Sludge" and "Trudge" have a very heavy 'D' sound. They also describe the ghostly way in which the soldiers moved. There is also the line: "Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs." It shows that the soldiers are beyond caring what happens to them, they are nearly dead with fatigue, never mind bullets and shells. ...read more.

Conclusion

From Tennyson's poem I have chosen "Was there a man dismayed?" This rhetorical question makes you believe that all of the soldiers were happy and eager for battle. From A 'Dulce Et Decorum Est,' the line "Bent double, like old beggars under sacks," stands out to me. This is the complete opposite of how Tennyson described troops. Here, the soldiers are barely able to walk, never mind fight to defend their homeland. Another major difference between the two poems is the value placed on life in each. 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' sees death as something that may happen when men are gallantly fighting for their country. In 'Dulce Et Decorum Est,' however, emphasis is put on the lack of respect for life, "Behind the wagon that we flung him in." The main reason for the difference in the poems of the two poets is the differences of the poets themselves. Alfred Lord Tennyson never fought in a war. He was to write poetry to inspire confidence among the British people in hard times. Wilfred Owen, on the other hand, enlisted in the army when war was declared in 1914. He experienced what every other soldier did during wartime. In fact, Owen was killed near the end of the war in 1918. These two poems are very different, but they have one major factor in common; they both achieved what they were written to do. 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' inspired confidence in the British people when they lacked it, and 'Dulce Et Decorum Est' told the public of the truths of war. ...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. The Poems of World War One Can Be Broadly Divided into Three Waves of ...

    "In Flanders Fields" by John McCrae is a very famous poem. Possibly one of the poems most associate with world war one literature. It was ironic that poppies grew in Flanders fields because they are meant to be fragile plants.

  2. Examine the way two poems by Wilfred Owen show the real horrors of war.

    This once again builds on this image of meaninglessness. The reader is latter shocked by the verse, when Owen speaks of the man throwing away his own knees; "...before he threw away his knees." The line arouses curiosity from the reader as it is a paradoxical because you can not physically throw away your knees.

  1. The two poems I have chosen are "Dulce et decorum est" and "Disabled", both ...

    The gas when inhaled reacted with the inhalants lungs and turned them into mush. It took the allies some time to realise this and finally issued the gas mask to its soldiers. This is also described in the poem. These masks were large and bulky and impaired the vision of the person behind its thick glass eyes.

  2. Personal response to "Dolce et Decorum Est", "Disabled" and "The Charge of the Light ...

    We can see that Tennyson is proud of these soldier's works during the charge, as he uses the word "honour" is repeated, and also he ends each phrase with an exclamation mark. This shows us that the in Tennyson's view, the charge shouldn't be remembered for its failure, but for those who lost their lives fighting for their nation.

  1. 'It is sweet and meet to die for your country' To what extent do ...

    Four hundred out of six hundred men died. The second poem I shall study is, 'The Drum' by John Scott, a Quaker whose beliefs say that any violence is wrong. The poem was written about the war in 1782 against Napoleon and was written to discourage men from going to war.

  2. From the pre-1914 selection, choose two poems that show different attitudes towards war and ...

    The way in which this is written, makes us feel sorry for the soldiers. Stanza five emphasises how the soldiers were surrounded by death traps. In reality, the Russians fought long and hard but Tennyson much prefers to focus on the courage and daring of the Light Brigade, against a

  1. By What Means Do The Poets in These Five War Poems Convey Their View ...

    not to reply, theirs not to reason why Theirs but to do and die," In the third verse the poet emphasizes the fact that they are trapped by repeating the word cannon to the left to the right and in front of them this works and brings up he idea of despair.

  2. By comparing and contrasting a selection of war poetry considering the ways in which ...

    patriotic view in the reader and cause a sense of longing to help the country, as it looks at the young boys playing cricket, but then shifts to see them later on in life defending some outpost of the British Empire.

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