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The First World War changed the way people thought about war and patriotism. Describe and compare the different attitudes to war in two or more of the poems you have studied

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Introduction

The First World War changed the way people thought about war and patriotism. Describe and compare the different attitudes to war in two or more of the poems you have studied People's attitudes to war have changed dramatically over the last century. Before world war one, war was viewed honourable and patriotic, with people feeling that it was their duty to defend their country at any cost. Pacifism was linked with cowardice. Therefore poetry written before the world war didn't contain the horrific physical detail of injury, but instead most poets concentrated on the heroic aspect of war. Now that people have realised the loss involved with war, poetry is generally anti war and emphasizes brutality, showing war as a last resort with little honour and glory, and showing pacifism as a respectable position. Out of the three war poems I have considered the first is called the Destruction of Sennacherib, and was written by Lord Byron. This poem is based on the war between the Assyrians and the Israelites. Lord Byron portrays war as a great drama, with vivid colour, smell and sound. The violence is stylised rather than graphic, and killing and destruction are shown as acceptable and indeed carried out by God. ...read more.

Middle

There is also a mention of a star in Futility but unlike the star in Byron's poem this star does not shine brightly, "...the clays of a cold star" The sun once woke this star but now it is unable to wake the dying soldier. Death of the soldier is the most important feature in Futility, sad and unfair, while in the Destruction of Sennacherib the death is not that of a person but of a horse. In this poem death seems graceful and peaceful, as "the angel of death spread his wings...breathed in the face of the sleeper...forever grew still" The death in this poem is sudden and proud, "breath of his pride" In the Destruction of Aerial bombardment, the battle scene is rich in colour, "summer is green", were the green describes the bright flags flying, the "sunset...leaves of the forest...melted the snow...spray of the rock-beating surf" Futility has bleak images of the battlefield but shows a more positive contrast of light and growth. There is despair in futility as the soldiers last hope is the sun, his comrades have placed him in the sun, they hope this will save him, the sun that woke him every morning even while he was fighting in France. ...read more.

Conclusion

Eberhart talks of a list containing names of people he went to school with, who are now dead. He can no longer remember their faces. I get the impression he feels guilty about the fact that they have died and not him. He shows war as beyond human control and comprehension, with God seeming powerless and indifferent to this suffering. There is a reference in the poem to Cain, which suggests that aerial bombardment, and a war fought in this manner resembles a mass murder. Before people knew any better they considered war a good thing, something God approved of and was an active fighter in, but as time went on and people realised the loss and destruction caused by war, people began to look on it less fondly. It was wars in the 20th century that made people reconsider their views and question the need for the unnecessary loss of millions of lives. The reason for a change in attitude could be that technology was more advanced so more people could be wiped out easily. For the first time technology could also be used so people around the world could see the horrifying images of war, taken from the front line. Pacifism is now viewed acceptably, and this is reflected in the changes in poetry. . ...read more.

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