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WAR POETRY: Themes in War Poetry

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Introduction

ENGLISH G.C.S.E. COURSEWORK WAR POETRY: Themes in War Poetry Before World War One, war was seen as glorious and honourable. These attitudes are reflected in the phrase Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mari, translated this means that it is sweet and fitting to die for your country. It was a firm belief that everyman should fight for his country. However, World War One changed this attitude that people had, as they had seen the effects of war on people. Warfare before World War One was believed to be men on horses battling or men on foot with swords and shields facing the same weapons as their own from the opposition. Over the years, technology has progressed and developed. New weapons were introduced and implemented during warfare, tanks and helicopters were brought in and this modified the whole perception of warfare and altered the idea of war to the reality of war and how it was during a battle and on the battlefield. In this essay, I shall be looking at the Patriotism of war, the Irony in war and the horrors of war. I will use my social, cultural and historical knowledge and by using particular poems, I will support my idea of the attitudes changed after World War One. For this essay I will be looking at six different poems, two for each theme I am looking at. For the Patriotism of war, I will be using 'The Call' by Jessie Pope and 'To An Athlete Dying Young' by A.E. Houseman. For the Irony in war, I will be using 'The General' by Seigfried Sassoon and 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' by Alfred Lord Tennyson. For the horrors of war, I will be using 'Dulce Et Decorum Est' by Wilfred Owen and 'Mental Cases' by Wilfred Owen. Jessie Pope is an excellent example of pre-war poetry because she writes with very strong patriotism. ...read more.

Middle

This is changed in the second stanza as the soldiers are trying to survive, the pace quickens, and this atmosphere is created with the use of small words and short sentences. Which is done through the first line, which has small words and exclamation marks which quickens the pace "Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! - An ecstasy of fumbling". With this quote it is also possible to see the change in pace that the soldiers had to face, the gas bombs were upon them, they had seconds to react to protect themselves. The change of pace is echoed simultaneously with the change of imagery that Owen is creating, so the reader can sense the soldiers' urgency. The change in the pace of the language reflects the mood of the poem, enabling the reader to be drawn into the theme of war and especially the horrors of war that the soldiers faced. The poem contains similes, such as "His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin", describing the effects of the gas on a young soldiers face. Metaphors are also included, such as "incurable sores on innocent tongues" describing the effects of the gas attack on the innocent soldiers who wanted to serve for their country, not knowing that this was how they were going to die. The similes and metaphors have been included to engage the reader within the poem. The imagery created is engrossing the reader making them feel that they are actually witnessing this particular horror of war, the gas attack described in the poem. This poem is focusing on the young soldiers who are faced with the horrors of war, which are not witnessed or endured by the people who do not serve for their country. The effects of this are aging the soldiers, "like old beggars". Personification is also used which involves the reader more actively in the poem by creating visual imagery, so they can try and feel the suffering of the soldiers was like. ...read more.

Conclusion

The word 'brother' is used in the second line, this is used to refer and talk to that someone who 'dealt' - convinced them to go and endure all this madness - dealing with the sights and smells the soldiers have seen. The poem concentrates on the effects of war on the soldiers, the reality is that, they have to endure all the images that they are left with. The effect it has on them they are left mentally disturbed as a result of fighting in the war. In conclusion it is possible to learn that the poets whom I have looked at have different ways in portraying war. This was made clear to me when I looked and analysised there work. The different themes can change and effect the way war is portrayed, for example, famous poets such as Wilfred Owen could influence poems becoming well known and therefore attitudes against war welfare could change as the theme of the poem which is written is more known of. It is possible to say poems famous of the time greatly influenced the way people saw and thought of the war, this is significant as the poets deliberately expressed feelings against war in this attitude. In many poems, the poets deliberately question and address the reader, making them feel somewhat involved even thought they were not there to experience war first hand. This is done primarily to influence the reader's opinion of the war and to greaten their knowledge of warfare through their own experience or personal opinions. The message given from poems is still somewhat relevant; this is as we remember the lives of all the soldiers still today. However, the message cannot be seen as important as it would have been at the end of World War One as the war does not have a big control on the way we live or even the way we see it now. ...read more.

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