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War poetry can condemn or celerbrate conflict

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Introduction

'War poetry can celebrate or condemn conflict'. With reference to the poems, 'Spring Offensive' by Wilfred Owen and 'Charge of the Light Brigade' by Lord Tennyson, how far do you agree with this statement? I think that war poetry condemns conflict but celebrates the soldiers involved in it, although the two poems do so in different ways. Wilfred Owen wrote, 'Spring Offensive' relating to his own accounts during war (as a soldier).This is particularly apparent in the way he is able to describe so intensely the feelings and thoughts of the soldiers before the conflict that the poem builds up to; "To face the stark, blank sky beyond the ridge. Knowing their feet had come to the end of the world". Tennyson is a great contrast to Owen as he wrote his poem based on a newspaper article on the Crimean war and had no actual part in any kind of war, his poem is more his opinion then his actual account. It is apparent from the beginnings of both poems that the poets have different views on war itself, not so much politically but generally their perception of it although this relates more to the motivation of the poets, Tennyson at the very beginning causes the soldiers to sound brave and gives the poem an upbeat rhythm to correspond with this, "Forward the light brigade! Charge for the guns! He said". Owen immediately exposes the fear and exhaustion of the soldiers in contrast with this, "Knowing their feet had come to the end of the world. ...read more.

Middle

Both poems are told from a narrative perspective, although Spring Offensive adopts a more personnel feel towards the soldiers, as it focuses more on how they feel; 'To face the stark, blank sky beyond the ridge, Knowing their feet had come to the end of the world'. Spring Offensive appears to be a very sort of 'downbeat' poem when compared to Charge of the light Brigade. Whereas Charge of the light Brigade appears more militant, it has a more upbeat feel creating a climax of suspense and excitement after each stanza, 'Into the valley of death rode the six hundred'. This keeps the reader interested and is effective in creating suspense for the next stanza. Imagery is critical in both poems, although probably more so in Spring Offensive, use of metaphorical language and general descriptions cause the countryside to play a large part in use of imagery. Death is the main themes in Spring Offensive and this is shown by using simple metaphors, 'Knowing their feet had come to the end of the world'. Charge of the Light Brigade uses imagery but it isn't relied upon as much as it is in Spring Offensive. Although both poems use imagery very differently, both involve using imagery for descriptions of death. Iambic pentameter is made use of towards the end of Spring Offensive. This is used more towards the end of the poem and acts as a kind of tool in order to cause the reader to consider the loss that takes place more deeply, during this period in the poem, there is less caesura used; 'Opened in thousands for their blood'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Owen is also effective in using personification and various other devices in depicting the loss, the oxymoron 'Superhuman inhumanities' gives a sense of guilt but also luck as being alive. Owen also ends the last paragraph with a question, 'Why not speak of comrades that went under?' This question really emphasizes both the readers and soldiers guilt and sympathy for the dead. Tennyson however, keeps the soldiers emotions very quiet and uses his last stanza to highlight the bravery and importance of the soldiers, 'How can their glory fade?' The rhythm throughout the charge of the light brigade is very fast and sometimes hard to keep up with, it follows irregular patterns. As the battle itself commences in the poem, the rhythm speeds up and caesura and run on lines virtually disappear, , in comparison to this, Spring Offensive maintains a steady rhythm and doesn't gain the same sense of loss of control like in Charge of the light brigade. Overall I think that war poetry condemns conflict, both poems express the loss of the soldiers in different ways but either way the effect is the same. This shows that poetry believes that most if not all conflict of this sort results in tragic loss of life. Spring Offensive exposes a very harsh reality of what war is like but Charge of the light brigade gives a more patriotic feel. Despite this, the affects of both poems onto the readers is guilt and sympathy. By Natalie Granger ...read more.

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