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The Poetry of World War One

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Introduction

The Poetry of WWI My study aims to cover the key points of the poetry written during and about the first world war and the various factors which may have influenced it. We will start with 'Drummer Hodge' which was written during the Boer war by a writer named Thomas Hardy. The poem offers an unusual view of war which isn't often seen elsewhere. Drummer Hodge by Thomas Hardy The poem is an existentialist paradox - Hodge was an unimportant figure in a major war and is representative of the thousands of casualties of the battle. The poem begins ambiguously. "They" could refer to either friend or foe. Their identity is not as important as their attitude towards Hodge. Hodge is "thrown" into a pit "just as found", without a coffin and presumably without a service. His "homely Northern breast and brain" suggests Hodge was a simple, modest sort, but a valuable human nonetheless. Unlike the other poems, Drummer Hodge is very structured and never changes it's six-line "1-2-1-2-1-2" form as opposed to Brooke's and Owens use of octaves and sestets. Hardy uses Roman numerals to separate each stanza and to provide a classical feel to the poem. The mood of the piece is somewhat sympathetic towards the subject. Hodge could be anybody but is used as an example of the unfairness of war. In the second part of the poem, Hodge is referred to as being "fresh" -- like a child to young to die. ...read more.

Middle

The sestet speaks further about the privilege of death and finally obtained peace which our previous world failed to offer. "The worst friend and enemy is but Death". II. SAFETY In the second chapter of Brookes plea for death, he explores the idea of war being safe - safe from survival in this case. "Who is so safe as we?" III. THE DEAD It was poems like this which was used in newspapers in order to encourage young men to go to war and die, with the image in their minds that if they did so, they would become "richer souls" and labeled as heroic. Brooke speaks of the privilage of death which is introduced in the first sonnet and further magnifies its magnificence and Honour. "...dying has made us rarer gifts than gold". The poet compares the death of a soldier to the inferior ending met with old age by those living a life of safety and absent usefulness outside of war. "...that unhoped serene that men call age" The sestet mentions the gain of Nobleness, Holiness and love "lacked so long" which comes hand in hand with an honourable death. IV. THE DEAD Similar to Hardys 'Drummer Hodge', the fourth in Brookes five sonnets talks about what has been lost with death. As in 'Drummer Hodge', the poem mentions how the dead had known joy, love, sorrow, kindness, emotion - all of which is ended by death. ...read more.

Conclusion

"What candles may be held to speed them all?", he asks in a second opening question. Once again, the "candles" refer to the candles lit in the church ceremonies in which their souls are 'speeded' off to heaven. "Not in the hands of boys", being the boys who carried the candles at the funeral, but "in their eyes" which talks of the glitter of tears in their comrades eyes who are also referred to as 'boys' (the idea being that that is exactly what they were, hence "Doomed Youth") "Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes". In the last line "a drawing down of blinds" is the blinds which are drawn as funeral prosessions are passed by houses, where the blinds or shutters are closed as a mark of respect for the dead. Here however, the whole world draws its blinds for them at each dusk. The poem may be easily comparable to 'The Soldier' given that they were both written during the first world war, they are of similar structure and length and both were written by young men who both died during that war. However, being that 'Anthem for Doomed Youth' was written later on in the war, and Brooke died before experiencing the horrors of the trenches, both poets have approached the subject with a different tone, Brooke seeing the war from an entire different angle from Owen who witnessed the aftermath and the war's many casualties. ...read more.

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