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English War Poems

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An Essay on War Poems In today's contemporary society, war and everything referenced to it is seen as utterly negative. Philosophers, historians, novels and poems all portray the negativity of war; however the question to ask is whether or not anything good can come out of war. In this essay, I will be evaluating a number of poems to see to what extent they agree to the following statement; "War does terrible things to people, and people do terrible things in war". To be able to give a proper response to this statement; I require analyzing each poem individually, providing proof of arguments against or for the statement. The poems which I have selected are in the accordance of how good arguments they provide. The first poem that I will analyze is Heroes. When first reading the title, words like patriotism, honor, loyalty, nationalism and devotion comes to mind. All of these words are very positive and give a positive aspect to the war; they also give the reader admiration behind the actions of the soldiers; however the poem itself portrays something quite to the contrary to that. ...read more.


The second poem I will analyze to see to what extent it agrees with the statement is Truce by Paul Muldoon. Truce, as the title says is about peace/armistice and is one of the few poems in the booklet that provides a non-violent and peaceful aspect of the war. The poem describes a temporary ceasefire on a Christmas day in the First World War and thus just shows that war does not always do terrible things to people and people don't always do terrible things in war. The allies and axis have a peaceful gathering to "exchange names and addresses". This poem shows how war may lead to friendship, peace, brotherhood and overall goes to show a positive aspect to war where people aren't doing terrible things such as killing. The poem is a symbol for what wars are fought for which is the ultimate goal of peace. Unlike Truce (which is a peaceful portrayal of a part of the war); the poem How did they kill my grandmother? shows another aspect of war. The poets name is Boris Slutsky and the aspect of the war, which is covered by this poem, is the affect of the war on civilians. ...read more.


Another Poem called Retribution; by the poet Ilya Ehrenburg describes a dead girl beside a bridge and how the soldiers see this as a symbol for what they are fighting the war against. Like Holocaust this is yet another example of a poem, with a central theme of the terrible things people do in war and thus another argument for the statement. In conclusion it is clear that the poems in the booklet provide arguments for the statement of "war does terrible things to people and people do terrible things in war". Merely by going through 6 poems I have come to a conclusion; though I see it is natural for war poems to cover aspects of the war that agree with statement, as war involves people getting shot, killed, raped, assaulted, burnt and sometimes even gassed; even the few attractive aspects of war are ridiculed such as glory, heroism and patriotism. Thus one can conclude that the booklet demonstrates to high extent to agree with the statement, as the majority of the poems cover aspects of the war that are clearly horrific and there is hardly any mention of anything good to come out of the war in the poems. ...read more.

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