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

The First World War marked an important turning point in Literary History: in the poems of Wilfred Owen, war is described for the first time in all its horror.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

The First World War marked an important turning point in Literary History: in the poems of Wilfred Owen, war is described for the first time in all its horror. War has always been described as horrific, but you had a chance to prove yourself in warfare. This is the impression we get from Chaucer's General Prologue to the "Canterbury Tales ". Chaucer (the pilgrim) describes the Knight, as a worthy man who had certain knightly qualities. He was a brave man and he behaved like a knight in shining armour should. He set an example to all the people around him and he had great respect for his King and Country. "He loved chivalrie..." in other words this noble man was well experienced in battle and he had fought in fifteen wars. Chaucer the pilgrim believed that he was a noble, generous and liberal Knight with good manners: "He was a verray, parfit gentil Knight". Chaucer's Knight is respected because he has proven himself in battle. Earlier poets recognised the violence of war but saw it as an honourable struggle, and that death was a worthy sacrifice. In pre-World War One poems, Alfred Tennyson among other poets describes war; the emphasis on honour and glory: "When can their glory fade? ...read more.

Middle

But ours had long died out." This blind man was persuading himself that he could see the light, to cheer him self-up. Nevertheless, there was a slight sense of guilt when the poet watches his dreams because he could still see him, and as much as this man is trying to forget, there is no escape from the memory. In "Dulce Et Decorum Est": (It's sweet and honourable to die for ones country), Owen concentrates on the horror of the front line and how it couldn't be less glorious. Soldiers were going to their deaths without any argument in the front line. Death is being described in all its true horror as the soldiers are gassed and the cries for help couldn't be less glorious. There is a vivid description of a man dying, and the poisonous gas filling the air chokes him: "If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs". Worse still, death seems inevitable from the moment of 'The Send Off': "Shall they return to beatings of great bells in wild train-loads?" The soldiers are treated like animals in 'Anthem for Doomed Youth': "What passing-bells (funeral bells) ...read more.

Conclusion

Just like a game of football the man thought team spirit would carry him through the war. Even those not obviously injured have to live with the guilt of survival, we can recognise this in the 'Send-off': "A few, a few, too few for drums and yells, may creep back, silent, to village wells up half-known roads." At the end of 'Dulce Et Decorum Est': "In all my dreams before my helpless sight he plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning." - And near to the end of 'The Sentry': "Eyeballs, huge-bulged like squids, watch my dreams still." Owen understood that War was no longer glorious or honourable for the ordinary soldier-there was no longer any hand-to-hand fighting anymore but mechanical weaponry e.g. Artillery, guns, bombs etc. He experienced it first hand and saw that the war was merely destructive. "Shall life renew these bodies?" he asks in 'The End', and the only answer he can find is that "it is death." There is no purpose in fighting such a terrible war and now it is up to the poets to tell the truth about it: "All a poet can do today is warn. That is why the true poets must be truthful." ...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. How is the horror of war, and the poets'criticism of war conveyed in the ...

    A poem written by the World War One poet, Wilfred Owen, is 'Exposure'. This poem is set out to show the reader what the conditions were really like during the First World War and to make it clear that the events that surrounded him were not pleasant.

  2. How does Owen stress the true horror of the First World War, and how ...

    This is very similar to Fall in where Begbie preyed upon the implied readers fears of appearing unmanly to women. In continuation of this, Pope goes on to focus on the sense of patriotism one would have if they were to volunteer: "Who knows it won't be a picnic-not much-

  1. Trace the history of 'the old lie'.

    One of Rupert Brooke's poems, "Peace" is one of the poems he wrote that shows us how England was feeling back then. He believes that fighting in this war will bring them peace and harmony. He even uses religious diction "Now God be thanked", he is implying that even God is on their side.

  2. History - World War One

    on end sitting in the trenches in freezing conditions - this being the cause of trench foot. One man recalls very well: Arthur savage was asked about his memories of the war the western front: "my memories are of sheer terror and horror from seeing men sobbing because they had trench foot which had turned gangrenous.

  1. Exposure and Disabled are two poems written by Wilfred Owen during the First World ...

    "Disabled" shifts tone throughout the piece - it changes from depressing to reflective to bitter to solemn and then finally to melancholy. The melancholy tone is expressed in the very first line - "He sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark."

  2. Contrasts of War Time Poems.

    This poem seems to be like those recruitment poster. It appeals to the male pride. The first sentence of the poem where the metaphor 'game' is used to replace war it makes the poem sound fun, exciting, and not dangerous.

  1. Discuss the first world war as reflected in the poem of the time

    When people read this poem it makes them think subconsciously that war is enjoyable. She also uses the word fight, which demises war to a tussle between countries, which can be rectified, by fighting. When you fight all you end up with are bruises and this view was being imprinted on to people's head.

  2. Stimulus and Response analysis: Dramatic and Literary depictions of war

    We found this to be very ironic as we know in the war none of the soldiers were truly important to people as powerful as Lord Kitchener. Also by the choice of words we felt that the poster used propaganda in order to persuade people, to have been politically correct

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