• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What difference did the experience of fighting in the First World War make to the way poets wrote about war?

Extracts from this document...


What difference did the experience of fighting in the First World War make to the way poets wrote about war? Alix Kelly In the earlier centuries, poets were inclined to present soldiers as heroic fighters who chose to fight and die for their country. Their deaths were presented in these poems as the most noble sacrifice, one of which they wanted to make. In English poetry, this tradition began in medieval times with a poem called 'The Battle of Maldon'. In Shakespeare's play 'Henry v', Henry makes a speech before the battle of Agincourt, in which this attitude is evident. This speech shows how poets used to view war as glorified and heroic. Throughout the speech by King Henry the idealistic theme of 'honour' is evident. King Henry talks to the soldiers as if they are on par with him and because he is their leader they have great respect for him: 'If we are mark'd to die.' He constantly refers to himself and his troops as 'we' which continues the idea of him being one with his men 'he.... that sheds blood with me, shall be my brother'. This means that when he is so grateful and pleased to be part of the war they follow his feelings. Shakespeare idealises war and the idea that people are honoured and proud. 'The fewer men the greater share of honour.' 'Strip his sleeve and show his scars.' ...read more.


For the next seven months, he was in training at Hare Hall Camp in Essex. In January 1917 he was commissioned as a second lieutenant with The Manchester Regiment. Owens started the war as a cheerful and optimistic man, but doring the two years of the war, he was changed forever. After some traumatic experiences, which included leading his platoon into battle and getting trapped for 3 days in a shell-hole, Owen was diagnosed as suffering from shell shock and sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh for treatment. It was whilst recuperating at Craiglockhart. After returning to the front, Owen led units of the Second Manchesters on 1 October 1918 to storm a number of enemy strongpoints near the village of Joncourt. Owen was killed in action on 4th November 1918, only one week before the end of the war. For his courage and leadership in the Joncourt action, he was posthumously awarded the Military Cross. Owen's war poetry reflects the horrors of trench and gas warfare. His great friend, the contemporary poet Siegfried Sassoon had a profound effect on Owen's poetic voice. This is most significant in his most famous poem 'Dulce et Decorum est.' 'Dulce et Decorum est' is a response to Jessie Pope's poem of dying a glorified and heroic death for your country. Because Owen had experience was himself he was flabergasted at the extent of betrayl Pope was using to persuade young men to join the war. ...read more.


The 'silent...night' and worries of 'silence'. This continues through the second stanza, also like 'Dulce et Decorum est; as it describes the movements and ways of the men; 'watching...twitching.' This poem continues to liken itself to 'Dulce et Decorum est' as It suddenly moves into the 'flickering gunnery' - the men come under attack. The soldiers question themselves, as Owen previously questioned Jessie Pope - 'What are we doing here?' This poem also has similarities to 'Futility' by talking about the weather; 'rain soaks and clouds sag.' The poem then repeats the idea of the soldiers coming under attach which does not happen in the two previous poems. 'Bullets streak the silence; this evokes a sense of hurry and panic which is like 'Dulce et Decorum est', and again uses weather, the same that is in 'Futility' - 'snow'. These three poems by Wilfred Owen liken themselves to the task of evoking people's thoughts on the harsh, but true, reality of war. He uses heartfelt phrases to describe the real horror experienced by young, innocent soldiers. Owen's poems were like many poets of the time - written from personal experience. The poems who wrote about war pre 1914 portrayed death in war as an ultimate sacrifice and a way to make your country and its people proud of you and give you honour. This is completely opposite to poets such as Wilfred Owen who wrote about war post 1914, from his own first hand experiences of it. He shows the truth of war and the horror it entails. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level War Poetry section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level War Poetry essays

  1. Imagine that you are a soldier in either World War One or the Crimean ...

    while performing our duties and through which we could feel the water soak through our damaged shoes. No one sympathised with us; we were treated as machines and not as humans. We missed our families and longed for the merry life in England.

  2. The Poems of World War One Can Be Broadly Divided into Three Waves of ...

    Brooke wrote a recruitment sonnet called "The Dead." I think this poem has a semantic field of reward, to make men want to go to war for the benefits. He uses words like "rich," "gifts," "paid," "wage" and especially "heritage" to entice the young men.

  1. How effectively do Asquith's poem, 'The Volunteer,' and the extract from Shakespeare's 'Henry V' ...

    He begins his speech by naming the day 'the feast of Crispian.' He goes onto declare that '..He that outlives this day...' shall stand taller ('..Stand a tiptoe...') on this day in the future. This will make the men that fight feel superior; and more importantly it will make those who don't fight feel inferior.

  2. How did poets in the early stages of World War 1 seek to glorify ...

    Poems like 'Who's for the Game?' and 'The Soldier' make the patriotism a poignant aspect of the poem, whereas rendezvous and 'In Flanders Field' are reflective and sentimental and display patriotism. 'Who's for the Game?' does this by use of its ordering tone, guilt and shame tactics to persuade the reader into thinking the same and in turn feel more patriotic towards England.

  1. World War I: Propaganda

    Decorum Est" (Latin for '' and "Anthem for Doomed Youth" He returned to France in August 1918, and went back to fight the final part of the battle, even though he didn't have to, and sadly, Wilfred Owen was killed by machine gun fire just one week before peace was declared.

  2. How does Owen stress the true horror of the First World War, and how ...

    Here it seems that Begbie is assuming the role of the implied reader to further connect with them whilst simultaneously bolstering the impression that they should volunteer. Also, Begbie is communicating the idea that there is still time to prove yourself and volunteer.

  1. Compare and Contrast, The shock and horror presented in the three war poems - ...

    because I saw one of my close friends needing help as he panicked to get his gas mask on, there he was in and I couldn't do anything to help him as I also needed to put my own gas mask on, and by then it was too late, my

  2. The First World War changed the way that people thought about war and patriotism. ...

    He does this by changing the tone by using upbeat words and also by using short phrases. The use of upper case letters on the repeated word 'GAS' emphasises this tonal change to generate panic.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work