Basing your answer on three of the poems write a comparison of the ways the writers present attitudes to the war.

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Basing your answer on three of the poems write a comparison of the ways the writers present attitudes to the war. In your comparison you should refer to the works studied so far to offer a judgement of how typical these writings are for enthusiasm for war.

War poetry prior to 1914 captured the excitement of war due to the success of the British army in conquering and expanding its empire. Poetry previous to 1900 therefore, focused on the victory of fighting, such as Newbolt’s Vitai Lampada. At the start of the First World War there was a surge of recruitment poems that captured a similar passion such as Jessie Pope’s ‘Who’s for the Game’ whilst others placed pressure on young men to join in fighting such as Betham-Edwards’ ‘The Two Mothers’. These three poems can each be compared to show writers attitudes to war and if these attitudes were typical of people’s enthusiasm for war.

Vitai Lampada is a typical poem in ‘fighting verse’ creating a sense of excitement and enthusiasm for battle. Due to the success of the army, war was presented as glorious and boys, particularly in public schools would grow up on an education for militarism believing the greatest thing a man could do was to die for his country. This is reinforced, where the soldier in battle is reminded of ‘the voice of a schoolboy’ that ‘rallies up the ranks’.

Public school poets such as Newbolt loved the idea of fighting having no cruel experience to weaken him and this is conveyed in his poem. Fighting verse aimed to encourage boys to become soldiers willing to die for their country and Newbolt does this by comparing war to a game of cricket which boys at public school would’ve been very keen on being involved in. He reinforces the excitement of playing the game by creating a tense scenario; ‘an hour to play and the last man in’ and the repeated ‘Play up! Play up! And play the game’ is powerful emotive language that captures the reader’s attention throughout the stanzas.

Newbolt comparing war to a sport is mirrored in Jessie Pope’s ‘Who’s For the Game?’ a recruitment poem published in 1914. The opening lines ‘Who’s for the game, the biggest that’s played, the red crashing game of a fight?’ presents war as exciting and exhilarating and she later describes it as ‘fun’. The exciting, fast paced lines starting with ‘who’ and ‘come along lads’ aim to stir the readers enthusiasm and the last line in each stanza appears sarcastic: ‘and who thinks he’d rather sit tight?’ In this final line, Pope slows the pace down to reinforce the idea that the man who sits out of war leads a monotonous, unfulfilled existence and that fighting is the only answer. The men who would ‘sit tight’, wants ‘a seat in the sand’ or would prefer to ‘be out of the fun’ are presented as cowards, particularly in the final stanza where there is no comparable line as ‘there’s only one course to pursue’.

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The representation of men who ‘lie low’ and refuse to fight as cowardly is typical of war poetry. In Rupert Brooke’s poem ‘Peace’ he mentions the ‘half men’ whose ‘sick hearts… honour could not move’ presenting their lives prior war as ‘old and cold and weary’. This idea is seen again in Julian Grenfell’s ‘Into Battle’ which claims that ‘he is dead who will not fight and who dies fighting has increase’ presenting fighting for your country as ennobling. An extract from ‘Letters From a Lost Generation’ expresses Roland’s opinion that it would be ‘cowardly’ if he were to ...

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