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War Poetry.

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Introduction

War Poetry When the First World War commenced in 1914 many young men couldn't wait to sign up and cross the channel to what they thought would be an epic adventure. They believed that it would be an exciting experience and that they would be hailed as heroes when they returned before Christmas after a resounding win. Posters, Propaganda and Poems contributed to this glorification of war. Rupert Brooke was the most famous poet of the first part of the First World War. One of his well known poems was "Peace". The poem is a sonnet and has a typical sonnet rhyming pattern, very structured as though there is a structure and completeness about the act of fighting. It is a poem that glorifies war in a number of ways. Firstly it says that one should leave one's trivial life behind one and go to war. The poet makes war seem very admirable, "there is no ill, grief, but sleep which is mending". It is saying that there is no pain or suffering in war, there is only an honourable death. This is a false image of what the trenches were like. The poet describes civilian life to be cold, boring, dreary, empty and even dirty, "Glad from a world grown old and cold and weary". The poet is saying that if you go to war, you've been "awakened" from a dull "sleep". War will cleanse you "as swimmers into cleanness". The poem raises many questions such as, isn't the love of your country far more questionable than the love of a human being? This poem finishes by saying that if you die, it's only your body that is broken, nothing else, you only lose breath you are only dead, "And the worst friend and enemy is but Death". ...read more.

Middle

A poem that shows mental suffering is "Strange Meeting". The poem contains para-rhyme "hall/Hell" this is because if it rhymed perfectly it would not reflect the imperfect nature of war. Also assonance is used "distressful hands, as if to bless" the words "distressful" and "bless", this has the effect of emphasising the slow soft reflective nature of the poem. In the first stanza the poet is referring to the person that he has killed, this shows that the real tragedy of war in that soldiers take no pleasure in killing their enemies but feel only sadness and pity. Owen then refers to a tunnel; this tunnel is hell that it only ends in the sleep of death, a nightmare that doesn't end. "I escaped/Down some profound dull tunnel". The poet also uses words like encumbered, this shows how weighed down both physically and mentally the soldiers were. This helps to distil the pity of war because it paints a picture in your mind. There are lots of words that are repeated, "The pity of war, the pity war distilled" this helps to show again that war is terrible for those who have to endure it. There is lots of irony in this poem "save the undone years" this is ironic because they don't have any time left. In the third stanza there is a break in the line after the word "hopelessness", this is almost a point for reflection on what little chance they have. The poet then goes on to talk about voices in the soldier's head. The German's voice is in the poet's head like a monologue. In addition, they are in it together, they don't know one another but they have some things in common. ...read more.

Conclusion

The punctuation in the poem gives an "instruction" tone but the voice of the sergeant is ridiculed somehow, "Please do not let me". The parody is achieved by simple, short brutal sentences and punctuation. The poem juxtaposes nature and death by using the same words. For example, spring is used for both warfare and nature, "They call it easing the spring". This is highly ironic because nature is such a beautiful thing but it is being compared to war which is the total opposite. In the final stanza the sergeant says " Silent in all of the gardens", the nature has a sort of calmness. The sergeant's tone is also calm. It is in the same tone as learning about a beautiful botany, but actually you are learning to use a killing machine. This is the irony of the title as well. It is a superb poem and illustrates the pity of war through nature. In war poetry nature is often invoked, particularly through flowers. A poem that shows this very well is "Desert Flowers." This poem para-rhymes "saying/slaying". Primarily you don't expect to see flowers in the desert making this ironic. The poet then uses a metaphor "the hawk every hour are slaying men." This is really the planes that are killing the men. In this poem enjambment causes "the mind" to be stressed, it causes suspense for what is being slain. We hear the word "slaying", yet the pause between the stanzas leaves it hanging until the last thing to expect comes: "the mind." Also shown in this poem is how the bodies of the dead men are feeding the poppies. He also shows his anger at the government; he wants them to see the horizon "confound the detail and the horizon", the outcome, but they see the detail which is the men as trees suffering. ...read more.

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