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How do the poets of the Pre and Posts 1900, evaluation their opinions of ‘Death’ through poetry?”

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Introduction

"How do the poets of the Pre and Posts 1900, evaluation their opinions of 'Death' through poetry?" Now in the 21st century, death is something, which has imprisoned our newspapers and television screens, particularly now due to the very unfortunate suicide terrorist attack in New York of the twin World Trade Centres and the Pentagon, which affected lots of people. But everybody interprets death itself differently. I believe our personal beliefs play a significant part in this, because for some they believe that once you die; that's it, your body gradually decays; others believe that you are taken up to heaven and some even look forward to death because of their belief in reincarnation. But what most people thrive on is the fact that there will be loved ones on earth that will remember them and acknowledge them for all their accomplishments and disappointments. In Pre and Post 1900, they too interpreted death differently, and many illustrated this through poetry. A famous Post 1900 poet is Wilfred Owen, who's poem 'Anthem for Doomed Youth', portrays his bitter angst towards the war and he laments the deaths of a whole generation of young men, who 'die as cattle' on the battlefields of Europe. Wilfred Owen was born in Oswestry, Shopshire, and the son of a railway worker. He became under the influence of contemporary French poetry. He enlisted in 1915, becoming a second lieutenant of the Manchester regiment. He was wounded 3 times while he was in France and was diagnosed with shell shock and it was when he was sent to Craiglockhart Military Hospital in Edinburgh, did Owen develop many of his poetic techniques. But it was only through the influence of fellow soldier and poet Sienfried Sassoon, that he began capturing his vivid visions of the war in the form of poetry. Many would argue that it was while writing his war poems, that Owen felt most able to express his ideas on paper. ...read more.

Middle

country' will just be forgotten about and will never get the acknowledgement or a proper send off that they so justly deserved. Without Owen's extensive knowledge and use of various poetic techniques, and the context that he arranges them in, would I ever have been able to comprehend this. The Pre 1900 poet John Donne also fascinated this topic. The poem that I am most concerned with is 'Death be not Proud'. Even though there was centuries between them, Wilfred Owen and John Donne were in more than one was alike. This is because they were both religious men who let it influence their poetry and they both worked in churches. The main difference is that while Donne's influences can be found in much modern poetry, especially that of T.S Eliot. Owen was under the influence of contemporary French poetry. Donne was born in 1573 and grew up to be a very religious man who went to Oxford and Cambridge University. He eventually became Dean of Saint Paul's Cathedral in London. I believe that because of this religious background, it explains Donne's attitude towards death. With Owen, it was his cunning poetic techniques that portrayed what he thought of 'death' during the war, but with Donne it is the unusual feature of the language he uses, the unusual sentence construction, and the use of old fashion forms of verbs, such as; 'art'; 'canst'; 'thinkest'; 'dosk': 'swellest' and 'benot'. Donne opens his poem saying; "Death, be not proud, though some have called thee, Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so." Think this is a very sceptical view of death, as rather than fearing death, Donne instead challenges the power of death over mankind, while another Pre 1900 poet James Shirley writes about the powerfulness of death and how we will all fall victim to it. I think I would have to firstly agree with Shirley, because as a human, I fear death and respect its power. ...read more.

Conclusion

The soldier realises that the man that he has killed although an enemy to the country could well have been a friend. In these lines he tries to reassure himself that he had to kill as it is what war is all about- killing the enemy not befriending him. He wonders why all the men joined the war, probably not for love of their country but out of boredom or lack of employment. Through the last lines of the poem we see the almost mental disintegration of the soldiers conscience as the horrific realisation of killing another man invades his mind and in an ironic twist he turns against his country and begins to lash out at those responsible for the wars, those responsible for drafting people into the army and those who kill out of fun. The language Hardy uses throughout the play is quite simple, I believe this is due to the seriousness of the subject. War is not fun, it is a very serious matter and so the poet emphasises this through small, simple sentences. These sentences do, however, force us to think about the consequence of war, the thousands of lives lost and the sacredness of the human life. Also, it becomes clear at the end of the poem that war never ends. The visions stay with you and the worst thing is, they would continue to eat away at your conscience until you die. Wilfred Owen used cunning poetic techniques. John Donne used unusual sentence structure. James Shirley used stanzas, with the last words in the first four lines of each stanza alternately rhyming. And Thomas Hardy used repetition and simple direct language throughout his poem. These are effectively and impressively, only some of the techniques used by the poets, to have expressed one of the most avoided topics-'death'. All these poets, Pre and post 1900's, have portrayed, quite comfortably through their poems, death and the consequences of believing that humans have the power to control who dies and who lives. GCSE English Coursework 2001 Zahra Lamsiah 12c ...read more.

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