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Pre 1914 War Poetry - The Drum and Drummer Hodge analysed.

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Introduction

English Coursework Pre-1914 War Poetry War is such a popular theme for poetry due to extremely different views on it, and how people can show their feelings about it through it. War is seen as brave, na�ve, brutal, necessary, chivalrous, and wasteful by different people. The Drum is a strong anti war poem written by John Scott, a vicar. The drum focuses on the lure of war, how the 'drum's discordant sound' entices 'thoughtless youths' from 'cities and from fields'. It focuses on the cheap, spoils of war, the ignorance of the young men, the terrible destruction it can cause, and the most of all maintains a sense of hatred of the drum, and how it (metaphorically) caused all of this. The Drum begins with 'I hate that drum's discordant sound, / Parading round and round and round.' Without a hint of ambiguity, the hatred for the drum is shown ('I hate') and by the word discordant. Discordant has 2 meanings, something disagreeable or incompatible, and in a more musical form, an unpleasant collection of harsh, clashing notes which are out of tune. The discordance is the fact that it is making war appealing, a more metaphorical sense than the usually in tune, and relentless (as is shown throughout the poem) sound of the drum. Using 'discordant', a word which would usually not be associated by the steady beat of a military drum, allows John Scott to captivate his reader, and make them think more about his poem and his views. John Scott is trying to get his message through from the first line. The "H" in 'hate' is an aspirant, heavy and emotive sound. He also uses 'that' instead of the more conventional word "the". ...read more.

Middle

The final two lines of the poem are 'and all that Misery's hand bestows, / To fill the catalogue of human woes.' The last two lines sum up John Scott's strong anti-war views, and he claims that the drum, his symbol of war, talks to him of 'all that Misery's hand bestows'. This is implying that there is nothing to be gained from war at all, and that it is full of misery. 'To fill the catalogue of human woes' is repeating the idea that war is full of pain. This is enforced by the words 'fill' and 'catalogue'. 'fill' is the idea that it is all of the bad things, and 'catalogue' signifies that there is a vast amount of them. The use of the word 'bestow' is also almost sarcastic, because bestowing is generally giving someone a gift, and yet here, all war has to give is disaster. In the poem, John Scott uses antithetical symmetry - the first stanza signifies the viewpoint, or rather, dream of a 'thoughtless youth', who has fallen under the spell of the drum, and the second, is John Scott's viewpoint, and what he believes is the physical reality of war. There are many contrasts to be made between the two stanzas. In the first stanza, 'cities' and 'fields' are depicted, while in the second, these are transformed into 'ravaged plains', and 'burning towns'. The addition of 'ravaged' and 'burning' to describe the reality of war was done, and also, 'fields' have turned into 'plains' and 'cities' into 'towns'; perhaps a hint of degradation. In the first stanza, 'thoughtless youth' are indicated by Scott, while in the second, he has shown them as 'ruined swains'. ...read more.

Conclusion

John Scott tried more vivid, physical descriptions of war, speaking of 'ravaged plains', 'mangled limbs', and 'ruined swains', trying to appeal possibly more to the soldier's themselves, and showing them the harsh reality of war. However, Thomas Hardy is appealing more to the relatives because he is speaking of men being separated, taken to die on an alien land, rather than on our own English land. This is because relatives like the idea that they could be with family in their inevitable dying moments, and to see them through to the grave, with a respectable ceremony. The opposite is occurring here, and this does go through strongly to older readers. While John Scott has gone for a different, more visual approach, he finds the fact that they won't be with family in death significant enough, and in The Drum, he wrote 'To march, and fight, and fall, in foreign lands'. Another place where the two poems are similar is the use of long vowel sounds. Thomas Hardy rhymes 'home', 'loam' and 'gloam' to give the second stanza a melancholic feel due to the long vowel sounds, while in The Drum, the long, onomatopoeic sounds of 'moans' and 'groans' appeal to the senses and give the reader more insight into war. Yet portion of that unknown plain Will Hodge forever be; His homely Northern breast and brain Grow to some Southern tree, And strange-eyed constellation reign His stars eternally. The first two lines of the last stanza underpin the idea above, and is made even stronger by the use of the words 'portion' and 'forever'. 'Portion' indicates that he isn't a person anymore, merely something scientific, and 'forever' just compounds the potential misery of relatives. 'Unknown plain' also indicates that the relatives will never find out what happened to their Hodge. ...read more.

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