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War Poems - Examine the different attitudes towards war as expressed by Wilfred Owen, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Thomas Hardy and Walt Whitman.

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Introduction

Samantha-Jayne Oldfield War Poems Examine the different attitudes towards war as expressed by Wilfred Owen, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Thomas Hardy and Walt Whitman. The poems I am studying span a period from 1854 - 1917; over 60 years in history. Each poem is written at the time of the war so each writer understood what was happening and the effect the war created, reflecting accurately a point of view prevalent at that time in history. Dulce et Decorum est by Wilfred Owen was written during World War 1 and is about a soldier being gassed. The tone of the poem is one of bitterness. In the poem the soldiers are on their way to rest, they were exhausted. Owen compares the soldiers to hags and beggars, "like old beggars under sacks, knock-kneed, coughing like hags." He creates this image to put forward his view about the war; he believed that war wasn't as glorious as it was made out to be. He carries on saying that the soldiers didn't even have the correct uniform, "Many had lost their boots" and that the soldiers were so used to the war, they seemed dead, "All blind", "Deaf even to the hoots of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind." During World War 1, gas was a very lethal weapon that killed thousands of soldiers. Owen uses the gas to create the sense of panic and he also makes this seem more real by using dialogue, "GAS! ...read more.

Middle

Tennyson writes about everyone watching and being amazed by the sight, it was incredible, "All the world wondered." This gives you the impression that the light brigade succeed, "Cossack and Russian reeled from the sabre-stroke shattered and sundered" but the final line shows the death, "Then they rode back, but not the six hundred." The indication of death is carried on throughout the rest of the poem, "While horse and hero fell" "All that was left of them." Tennyson comments on the battle at the end of this poem. He ends the poem by asking us to honour the soldiers as they lost their life for us. He talks about how good war is and how it creates heroes; he has no negative feelings about war. This poem is upbeat and positive whereas Drummer Hodge by Thomas Hardy is a very sad and upsetting poem. Thomas Hardy has a negative view on the war; he believes that it is a sad thing. This was written during the Boer War and it is about the effect it had on young soldiers...death. The opening line is very depressing, it gives a brutal image of the war, "They throw in Drummer Hodge, to rest uncoffined - just as found." Like in Dulce et Decorum est, he is just thrown into a hole and buried without a coffin; nobody will be able to find him. The use of foreign words like kopje-crest and veldt are used to create distance, it shows how far away Drummer Hodge is from his home, "His landmark is a kopje-crest that breaks the veldt around." ...read more.

Conclusion

Whitman's view on the war is that it is a terrible thing and only brings sorrow. Like in A Wife in London, Whitman shows this by the news being delivered and the son being injured, "gunshot wound to the breast, cavalry skirmish, taken to hospital, at present low, but will soon be better." It is an optimistic letter but the mother knows it is false. "Sickly, white in the face and dull in the head, very faint, by the jamb of the door" the mother feels alone; her son is dying in the war. "While they stand at home at the door he is already dead, the only son dead." the thought that this is the only son makes the death seem worse, it is a heartbreaking to lose a child and Whitman uses this to make the reader feel sad. He emphasises her grief by putting her in "teeming Ohio". The ending of the poem is a very sad and depressing one. "O that she might withdraw unnoticed, silent from life escape and withdraw, to follow, to seek, to be with her dear dead son" the mother doesn't want to live anymore; she wants to be dead and rest with her son. Four out of the five poems are against war. Thomas Hardy, Walt Whitman and Wilfred Owen believe that it is a terrible thing that can only bring sorrow and unhappiness. Alfred Lord Tennyson is the only writer to believe that war is a noble thing. War creates lots of hurt and pain. Dulce adulterinus et Decorum est Pro patria mori! ...read more.

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