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World War I Poetry

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With Detailed Reference to Three Poems, Compare and Contrast the Poets' Presentation of War Through Their Choice of Language and Forms. The poems compared in this essay are from the times of the First and Second World Wars. The three poems were written by poets who had fought as soldiers and experienced the war first hand. Two were written by World War I poet Wilfred Owen: 'Anthem for Doomed Youth' and 'Dulce et Decorum Est'. The other is World War II poet Kieth Douglas's poem: 'Vergissmeinnicht'. While fighting with his regiment in France, Owen is known to have experienced some of the most terrible elements of the First World War. For example: leading his regiment into battle only to fall into a shell hole and be trapped in the hole for three days, shortly after this experience he was diagnosed with shell-shock. Douglas fought during the Second World War in North Africa. He served as a camouflage officer and towards the end of war fought as a member of a tank squadron. 'Dulce' and 'Vergissmeinnicht' describe experiences the poets had, however 'Anthem' is considered a lament for soldiers who died during WWI. In both 'Anthem' and 'Vergissmeinnicht' references are made to the partners of the soldiers who have been killed in war. ...read more.


By calling the soldiers "boys" Owen stresses the fact they are young, by drawing attention to how young the soldiers are Owen and Douglas emphasize the soldiers' innocence which evokespathos in the reader. In the final stanza of 'Vergissmeinnicht' Douglas writes: "For here the lover and killer are mingled Who had one body and one heart" By juxtaposing "lover and killer" Douglas shows how in war love and hate become mixed up despite them being paradoxical ideas. The same idea of war mixing up the ideas of love and killing is shown in 'Anthem'. Anthem is written in the form of a Ptrachan sonnet, sonnets are love poems and yet 'Anthem' talks of the horrors of war. By writing a sonnet about ideas of war it tells us that the two concepts have become mixed up. By the poets mixing concepts to do with love and war it shows the reader that war is sinister, as it mixes up two concepts which are usually very different 'Dulce' and 'Vergissmeinnicht' are both written in the first person plural. This has the affect of causing the reader to fall into the writer's point of view as the poem is told from Owen and his comrades' perspective. ...read more.


In "Vergissmeinnicht" the dead German soldier is said to be "mocked at by his own equipment", here the mocking of the dead soldier by his equipment compares how he is more useless than his non-living equipment which can still function. In 'Anthem' Owen writes of "the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle" and "demented choirs of wailing shells". Personifying the shells appeals to the reader's sense of sounds of the battlefield as well as what it looks like. Throughout 'Anthem' there is a theme of the contents of a traditional Christian wedding being represented metaphorically as different objects in war. Knowing this, we can see that the "stuttering rifles" portray the muttering sounds of the prayers of people at a funeral. In 'Vergissmeinnicht' Douglas writes "Look. Here in the gunpit spoil". The word look is singled out by itself and a caesura follows immediately after it, this makes the word seem very important. The word "look" is also an imperative so it instantly makes the reader want to "look" and imagine what is being described. By reaching out to the reader's senses Douglas causes the reader to imagine the sight he describes in his poem. Similarly in 'Dulce' Owen writes "If you too could hear, at every jolt, the blood". By saying "If you could hear" Owen challenges the reader to try to imagine the sound of the blood described in the poem. ?? ?? ?? ?? I ...read more.

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