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Three poems that encapsulate the different attitudes of conflict are Jessie Popes Whos for the game? Recruiting by Ewart Alan Mackintosh and Suicide in the trenches by Siegfried Sassoon

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Introduction

Emma Newman Explore Attitudes to Conflict in a Selection of Poems from World War One War and the idea of war has throughout history been associated with honour and heroism. Before World War 1, war poetry had reflected society?s opinion that war was fun, jovial, full of glory and that any young man could earn honour and respect if he had the courage. However, the modern world had not yet experienced war on a large scale. At the beginning of World War 1 these old style poems that depicted soldiers as heroes were released as propaganda to recruit as many young soldiers as possible. However, as the war dragged on, soldiers began to write home and tell of their horrific experiences in the trenches and the true realities of war became apparent. Three poems that encapsulate the different attitudes of conflict are Jessie Pope?s ?Who?s for the game?? ?Recruiting? by Ewart Alan Mackintosh and ?Suicide in the trenches? by Siegfried Sassoon. Jessie Pope was a journalist and was fiercely patriotic. Her poems now thought to be jingoistic in nature, were originally published in the Daily Mail to encourage enlistment. Her poems consisted of simple rhythms and rhyme schemes with extensive use of rhetorical questions to persuade and pressure young men to join the war. ...read more.

Middle

It was during this time that he wrote this poem as a response to the attitude that he experienced on the home front. His poem criticises the ?fat civilians? who are the people who set up the recruiting campaign. People, who wish that they ?could go and fight the Hun?. In reality they are glad they are too old. The noun ?civilians? underlines the fact that they won?t be involved in the fighting. Mackintosh also attacks the ?girls with feathers? as women used to give men who hadn?t joined up white feathers as a sign of their cowardice. Men were often pressured to join up to please their women. After stanza three, Mackintosh speaks of what the recruiting poster should say if it were honest. He paints a real picture of the war ?shiver in the morning dew? gives the reader an image of a cold unforgiving place. He speaks of the Germans as ?poor devils? and ?waiting to be killed by you? suggesting that these men were ordinary men and not the ?wicked German foe? as the propagandists would claim. At first glance the reader would think the poem was anti-war. In actual fact it isn?t as the last 3 stanzas suggest that young men might gain something from the experience if they face it honestly. ...read more.

Conclusion

The line ?no one spoke of him again? is an angry attack at the propagandists suggesting the soldier was forgotten and was dispensable as many more young men would be recruited via their tactics. Sassoon?s third stanza is a bitter attack aimed at the ?smug-faced crowds? on the home front. It implies they are glad the young lads are going to war and not them. The final line uses emotive language to sum up the waste of young life and it?s destruction of innocence. Attitudes of conflict expressed through poetry differ because each poet writes from their own perspective. Jessie Pope hadn?t experienced war and like the majority of society had a romanticised view of the glory of war. Ewart Mackintosh criticised the way in which war was promoted; he felt that young soldiers should have been given an honest picture to help the recruits make their own decisions. Siegfried Sassoon criticised the way in which the truth about war was censored to stop society learning of the true horrors. If we compare Pope?s poem to Sassoon?s, it is hard to believe they are writing about the same war. Sadly, the true reality of World War 1 was not made fully apparent until after the war had ended. ...read more.

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