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Explore how Owen, McRae and Brooke present the physical and mental horrors of war.

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Introduction

Explore how Owen, McRae and Brooke present the physical and mental horrors of war. All of the poems by the writers above share a common theme, the horror of war, but vary in their interpretations and views. "Peace", by Rupert Brooke, puts across the idea that war is not as bad as people believe, but an opportunity to prove oneself worthy. In contrast, "Strange Meeting" and "Anthem for Doomed Youth", both by Wilfred Owen, are very different poems. "Anthem for Doomed Youth" is filled with passive bitterness towards the war, while "Strange Meeting" describes an encounter that leads to a reflective monologue on the horror of war. Finally, "In Flanders Fields", by John McRae, portrays the consequences of war, and the sheer loss of life that comes from it. All the poems put across the horrors or glories of conflict in their own ways, but they all remain focussed on the idea of war, while portraying the respective ideas of the writers. Firstly, the key features of each poem. "Peace", by Brooke, is a pro-war poem subtly encouraging people to fight, and was published as part of 1914, a sonnet sequence. He first describes war as a divine intervention to be looked upon positively, shown by "God be thanked Who has matched us with His hour", describing how God has allowed people to partake in such a thrilling time. This religious attitude towards war was influenced by his belief in "muscular Christianity", Christianity that was active, not passive. Brooke then describes how war has improved the people of the world, with lines like "And caught our youth, and wakened us from sleeping". As a Christian, Brooke felt that morality had gone from the world, and felt that war could be the thing to rejuvenate it, as shown throughout the first stanza. He then continues with a more encouraging message, similar to Pope in "Who's For The Game". ...read more.

Middle

The final poem is the most complicated of the four, "Strange Meeting" by Owen. It has a dream-like atmosphere running through it, with the first stanza beginning the idea of a strange journey. The first line, "It seemed that out of battle I escaped", could be indicative of death, and the stanza continues to set the scene of this meeting, wherever it may really be. The idea of a "dull tunnel" that "titanic wars had groined" supports the possibility of not just this war but all wars and conflicts, titanic or not, being represented by this poem, shaping the poem in the way that they shaped the tunnel. The second stanza elaborates on this setting of scene, describing surroundings of "encumbered sleepers", referring to the dead, encumbered not by kit but by suffering and pain. The image of "one sprang up, and stared/With piteous recognition in his eyes" is the idea of a man that the speaker has killed previously, his eyes so desperately calling for pity is an extremely powerful one, giving the reader the sense of shock that Owen wanted to convey, and can be used as a stark turning point in the poem. As well as this, the speaker's identity being unknown furthers the effect of the poem. If Owen had positively identified himself as the speaker, this could be seen as an individual experience. This would reduce the effect that the idea of common pain of war provides, the unidentified speaker making the poem reach out further, turning it from a terrifying personal experience into a universal one that is equally so. Owen then begins his third stanza, and opens with the line "With a thousand pains that vision's face was grained", "vision" implying the continuation of the dream-like state, and the pains being the legacy left on him by the war. Owen contrasts this with the pains not being caused by guns or physical wounds, "no guns down the flues made moan", "No blood reached from upper ground". ...read more.

Conclusion

As well as this, line ten of the sonnet, "Oh! We have found no shame, we have found release there", is a full Alexandrine, iambic pentameter with two extra syllables, so having six pairs rather than five. This at the start of the sestet, with the euphoric "Oh"! sounds as if it signifies a change in tone of the poem as Brooke at the same time moves into the crux of his argument, how agony is fleeting, and death is not as bad as it seems. The final poem, "Strange Meeting" also includes use of metaphors, but the key feature of it is Owen's use of his own pararhyme, or "near-rhyme". This, for example "years/yours" and "wild/world" allows Owen to have a greater vocabulary, furthering expression without being limited by rhyme and form. The poem is divided into three irregular stanzas, which works with the structure, having the main monologue all in its own stanza of unrelenting power, with two sharper stanzas building towards the "main event". Finally, Owen also uses the powerful rhythm of iambic pentameter to provide strength to a somewhat gentle poem, and the powerful visual sense imagery of "piteous recognition in his fixed eyes" and "much blood had clogged their chariot wheels", to put across the ideas that war is a terrible thing, and that all men can do is attempt to stop it. In conclusion, the poets above use various techniques to put across a very generic theme in their own ways. This can be affected by their own beliefs in the subject, as well as other aspects of the poems like their form and metre being vital to how the ideas of the poems are portrayed. Despite this, it is still clear that the most important tools to creating a successful portrayal of any subject, war or not, are the words written down on the page. ?? ?? ?? ?? James Hansen 10GA ...read more.

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