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War poetry.

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Introduction

War poetry coursework assignment The First World War was fought over a four-year period or harsh conditions and bloody conflict and through out this time many people chose to show their views through poetry, the most famous of these being Sassoon and Owen. Poems were also written for differing reasons such as to convince and in some cases bully young men into joining the army, these were often called recruitment or propaganda poems. Propaganda poems such as fall in were not particularly poetically valuable but they gave across a strong message; join the army or be shunned from society. Fall In as the title suggests is a recruitment poem and is written using a lot of colloquial language to relate to the working class young men it was aimed at. The poem prompts the audience to think about how they would feel in the future if they did not join the war "and when your neighbours talk of the fight will you slink away." The poem portrays a life where the people who know you are embarrassed to be around you and even your children would see you as a coward. In the last stanza the writer appeals to the patriotism of the reader, which in the post Victorian era was on the whole much stronger than it is today. It also depicts war as a good and exciting event where as normal life is show as being mundane and repetitive. ...read more.

Middle

Idealistic poems convince the reader to join the army by telling them how honourable it is to fight and win, or die fighting for your country rather than blaming those who don't go to war for shaming themselves and their family. These poems continued to be written throughout the war, but after the disastrous battles of Ypres and the Somme many poets began to no longer see the war as a good thing, defending Europe from the Nazis, but instead as a pointless war of aggression. Public opinion was also changing, as many more young men were being killed and conscription was introduced many people began to 'take the side' of the anti war poets. Two of the most famous of these poets are Wilfred Owen and Siegfreid Sassoon. Sassoon's poems were mostly aimed at the working and middle classes. In his poems he uses very common names such as Jack and Harry to emphasise that he could be writing about any soldier. He also uses quite colloquial language to relate with his audience. In the poem "The Hero" Sassoon sets the scene of an officer breaking the news that a soldier has been killed in battle to the man's mother. The title in this poem is meant to be sarcastic showing that not every man involved in the war was a hero and died a hero's death. Sassoon does not call the mother my name, simply as 'mother' to highlight the fact that this could be any family. "'We mothers are so proud of our dead soldiers.' ...read more.

Conclusion

During this stanza Owen often relates his description of the gas attack with drowning such as when he writes, "As under a green sea I saw his drowning", he does this because every one can associate with it. In the last stanza Owen is again speaking to the pro war poets who had had no experience of battle such as Jessie Pope. He essentially is saying, if you had seen what I and my fellow soldiers had seen you would not so readily preach for Britain's young men to go to war. In the first half of the last Owen recalls the aftermath of the gas attack. He tells the audience how many people still have nightmares about the attacks and death it caused. The uses of "watch" and "hear" invite the audience to think about what they would feel like if in the same situation. Owen uses a lot of compelling adjectives such as "vile", "obscene" and "writhing" these words make the poem seem to be more convincing and realistic. Owen also uses many metaphors in his poems such as "His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin" this description describes to the audience how a victim of a gas attack looks when he is close to death, terrible, like the devil, but more ugly and distraught. The last line is a repeat of the title and translates to be; 'sweet and proper it is to die for ones country'. Through out the poem Owen challenges that statement. In conclusion I feel that Sassoon's poems were most effective as they were written in simple language, simple but very effective. ...read more.

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