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Trace the History of ‘The Old Lie’ from before and throughout the First World War, from enthusiastic patriotism to cynical disillusionment.

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Trace the History of 'The Old Lie' from before and throughout the First World War, from enthusiastic patriotism to cynical disillusionment. When the word war is mentioned, the first thing that comes to most people's heads are the horrific scenes of the First World War. However, some people still feel it is a great honour to fight and die for your country. Wilfred Owen, a war poet, described this view as 'The Old Lie'. Poetry has become more and more popular in the past couple of years, and it is possible that war poetry is often read as it deals with strong feelings and the difficulties of conflict that we still experience today. Poetry will make most people think of love and really boring stuff so where did war poetry suddenly come from? Well, poets found that in order to get the perfect 'Romantic Moment', you had to go to the battlefield, so more and more poets went into war and wrote poems describing the war they fought in. Most poets did no die, but they wrote many poems about how good it was to die for your country, 'The Old Lie'. The Old lie 'Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori' (dying for your country is glorious). There are many poets who agreed and disagreed with this view. Alfred Tennyson disagreed to this with his poems, 'The Revenge' and 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'. ...read more.


Alfred Tennyson's 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' where an elite Calvary force won a Pyretic Victory. Even though a lot of men were lost, they were 'honoured' and their deaths were glorious, "When can their glory fade?" and "Honour the charge they made! Honour the light Brigade!" This poem has agrees with 'The Old Lie' a lot and also uses many positive words when describing the light brigade making their charge glorious and patriotic. Also in 'The Revenge', also written by Tennyson, it describes how the brave Sir Richard Grenville fought with one ship against the fifty-three Spanish ships. It also says how Sir Richard was very brave to fight for his country against all odds and how he had a glorious and patriotic death. This view from The Crimean War of a glorious death lead on to the view being agreed by most people in at the beginning of the First World War. Rupert Brook, who I have mentioned earlier, thought is was great to fight and die for your country. He joined up for the First World War but never got to fight because he died of Malaria whilst he was travelling to fight on a boat. Brooke, although saw the aftermath of a war, still believed it was glorious to fight for your country, unlike Owen. ...read more.


There is a lot of sarcasm in Sorley's poem but also, if you look at it in another way, it can be quite serious in places. All of this makes Sorley's poem ambiguous and no one really knows whether he was for or against war. There are other poems that at first glace is a pro war poem but if read carefully may change some minds. An example of a poem like this is 'In Flanders Fields' by John McCrae. The last verse in this poem has lines like 'Take up our quarrel with the foe' making it seem like a pro war poem, saying let's carry on and fight the enemy. However, the rest of the poem talks about how people die in war and how there are many poppies representing blood in Flanders Fields. So some people think that this is defiantly a Pro war poem whilst others may say that maybe it is no, maybe it is talking about the horrors of war. In contrast to the Pro war poets, I have also studied a few of the anti war poets. There was Wilfred Owen and his wide collection of anti war poems including 'Dulce et Decorum Est', Siegfried Sassoon and the 'Memorial Tablet' In conclusion, I think that the name 'The Old Lie' is a right name for the view that it is 'glorious' to die for your country because in reality the deaths are really horrific and that it is not glorious. ...read more.

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