World War One Poetry
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Compare and contrast the purpose and style of Wilfred Owen's First World War poetry with the purpose and style of contemporary recruitment poems. The Ballad of Peace and War- Wilfred Owen Dulce et Decorum Est- Wilfred Owen Anthem for Doomed Youth- Wilfred Owen Who's for the Game?- Jessie Pope Fall In- Harold Begbie "What passing bells for those who die as cattle?" Wilfred Owen, Anthem for Doomed Youth "Who wants a turn to himself in the show?" Jessie Pope, Who's for the Game? The First World War began in 1914, following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on the 28th of June. The heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne was shot by Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb student. As retribution for this, Austria-Hungary demanded that Serbia punished those involved with the shooting. The conflict escalated as the Austro-Hungarian government deemed that Serbia had not fulfilled this demand and declared war. The major European powers had joined the war within a few weeks due to complex international alliances. Thus the original war had become the first global military conflict; the Entente or Allied powers, the British Empire, Russia, France and eventually Italy & America, against the Central powers, the Austro-Hungarian, German and Ottoman Empires.
All of these techniques help Owen to achieve his purpose of expressing the horrors of trench warfare to the reader, thereby counteracting the effects of pro-war recruitment poetry. "Dulce et Decorum Est" was originally addressed directly to Jessie Pope, a poet and war enthusiast, who wrote poems such as "Who's for the Game?" in support of the recruitment campaign. Owen refers to Pope in the final lines of the poem as "my friend" and declares that Pope would not be so quick to encourage "children" to join the army if she had experienced life in the trenches. These lines are used by Owen to emphasise the fallacies of the recruitment campaign, which was led by those without experience of trench warfare. Jessie Pope was a well-known journalist who helped the recruitment campaign by writing war poetry for the Daily Mail and the Daily Express. Her writing reflected popular attitudes within society during the First World War and Pope herself has become infamous after Owen's reference to her in his first draft of "Dulce et Decorum Est". Pope's poem "Who's for the Game?" compares war to sport in order to achieve the purpose of recruitment poetry, which is to persuade men to join the army.
This friendly style, also employed by Jessie Pope in "Who's for the Game?", is persuasive and helps to achieve Begbie's purpose because the reader is more likely to trust the content of the poetry if they feel a bond with the author. In "Fall In" each verse has a different scenario, such as in "far-off winter nights", to compare the results for those who fought in the war and those who did not. In each scenario the "lads who come back" are more successful so the plot of the poem helps achieve the poem's purpose by implying that is "Wrong" not to fight in the war. Begbie also capitalizes right and wrong in the phrase "And Right is smashed by Wrong?" to personify them and displaying the choice in a simplified manner which removes any empathy for those who do not fight, produces pro-war emotions within the reader and achieving the purpose of recruitment poetry. This also contrasts with the timeline of Owen's "Dulce et Decorum Est", which describes only one scenario, not several, heightening the tension in each verse in order to build to a climax. Owen does this to sustain both the reader's interest and their emotional involvement so his conclusion will be more effective and persuasive, expressing the harsh reality of trench warfare.
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