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War Poetry Coursework

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Introduction

War Poetry Coursework People's attitudes towards war changed as the war progressed and this is shown in the war poetry which reported about war to the civilians back in Britain. At first these war poems praised war, but when the soldiers realised the truth about war, their poetry changed to show the horrors of war. Eventually poets began writing to ask for the war to stop. The early World War One poetry was written in praise of war. This is because the poets had not yet experienced the horrors of war. They believed the propaganda which led them to believe that war was glorious. Two examples of such poetry are 'The Soldier' and 'The Dead' both by Rupert Brooke. Both of the poems are sonnets. Sonnets are traditionally love poems so through using this form Brooke shows his love for his country. The poems say that it is glorious to die at war: 'Dying has made us rarer gifts than gold,' 'The Dead' This means that the people who die at war are more precious than gold because of their sacrafice. Brooke believes that they have become better people through dying for a cause. 'The Soldier' glorifies death at war by saying 'If I should die...There's some corner of a foreign field that is forever England.' Brooke cares more about the glory of England than for his own life. Brooke regards death at war as a glorious thing although the word 'If' shows that he does not expect to die. Each poem uses personification. 'The Dead' personifies the 'Dead' by giving the word 'Dead' a capital letter showing respect. 'The soldier personifies England by calling it 'her.' This also shows patriotism because Brooke thinks of England as a person. 'The Soldier' repeats the word 'England' and 'English' throughout the poem showing Brooke's patriotism. The sestet of 'The Soldier' portrays an 'English Heaven' showing patriotism. ...read more.

Middle

Sassoun also describes the mans character. He was "a decent chap who did his work and hadn't much to say". This makes the man seem more of an innocent victim than he would if he hadnt been described at all. The mans actions leading up to his death are also described. Irony is used to make us symathise with him because "He thought of getting back by half-past twelve". Wilfred Owen also describes just one death but also focuses on the effect is has on Owen. There is a gas attack on a group of men. All the others manage to get away but "someone still was yelling out and stumbling". this makes us pity the one man more because he dies alone. Owen tell us the effect the death had on him: "In all my dreams before my helpless sight / He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning." This makes us pity not only the man who died but also Owen. It also shows that death was such a terrible thing that it had more than one victim, it traumatised the living who would carry the memory for the rest of their lives. As the war progressed the poetry became increasingly bitter. Poets became determined to show the truth of what went on at the front line. They wanted to stop people believing the false image the propaganda had given them so that they would think twice about enlisting. Two of these poems were 'Disabled' by Wilfred Owen and 'Does it matter?' by Seigfried Sassoun. At the time the poems were written many people believed that if they were disabled at war they would be treated as heroes but these poems show that in reality there was no glory in being disabled at war. Seigfried Sassoun shows that there is no glory through his sarcastic tone. The poem asks "does it matter? - losing your legs?... ...read more.

Conclusion

Wilfred Owen also uses rhetorical questions. He asks "Are limbs so clear achieved, are sides Full nerved - still warm - too hard to stir?" He is asking that if the sun once brought life to the earth why it can't bring life to the dead soldier. Owen hopes that if he moves the dead body into the sun it owould bring him back to life. This shows how desperate Owen was that he was willing to try to wake the dead this way. Owen asks a second rhetorical question. He asks "Who is it for the day grew tall, O what made fortuous sunbeam toil To break earths sleep at all?" This question shows how war has caused Owen to give up hope and ask what was the point in God creating the world if he would only let it be destroyed by war. The poems are both asking for miracles. Owen is asking for the sun to awake a dead man. Palmer is asking for God to end the war. Both the poems use personification. Robert Palmer personifies feelings of hate and pride: "Hate their most hateful, pride their deadliest foe." This means that the soldiers biggest enemy is not the Germans but it is their own hate and pride. If they did not have hate for the Germans there would be no war. If they did not have pride they would not have signed up for the war. Owen personifies the "kind old sun". This shows that the sun is the only thing Owen has to be thankful for during the war, he looks to it like a friend as he desperately wants the man to awake. Thus to conclude during the four years of World War One the poetry changed to reflect the changing attitudes of the soldiers. At first poets glorified war, as the war progressed they wrote about how they had been lied to by propaganda and about the terrible reality of war. The poetry became increasingly bitter throughout the war and eventually the same poets who glorified war began pleading for the war to stop. ...read more.

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