Compare "The Drum" by John Scott and "Vitai Lampada" by Henry Newbolt.

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Pre 1914 War Poems

The two poems that I am going to compare are “The Drum” by John Scott and “Vitai Lampada” by Henry Newbolt. The poems have greatly contrasting views of war. “The Drum” has a negative perception of war whereas “Vitai Lampada” portrays a very positive image of war.

A drum is a musical instrument that was used during war times to recruit men to sign up and join the army. The drum would be banged to get people to notice that the army was recruiting outside, people would then leave their houses and ‘sign up’ in the street.

The first line of the poem tells the reader about the poet’s view on war, “I hate that drum’s discordant sound”. Discordant – meaning disagreeing, at variance in respect to sounds. The word “hate” meaning to dislike intensely used as the second word in this poem, showing the strength of the feelings about war felt by the writer John Scott. The beginning of “Vitai Lampada” is very different to the beginning of “The Drum”. “There’s a breathless hush in the Close tonight - Ten to make and the match to win”. There is no strong negative or positive emotive word like the word “hate” used at the start of “The Drum”. The word “Close” is given a capital letter, implying that it might be the name of a stadium or pitch, not just the literal meaning of the word “close” – an enclosed space. “Vitia Lampada” starts by describing the tense atmosphere of boys playing cricket “ten to make and the match to win”. Vitia Lampada goes on to say “And it’s not for the sake of a ribboned coat” the ribbon may be the prize for wining, similar to the blue ribbon awarded to winners of competitions today. This would be pinned to the winner’s, or winning team’s clothes or “coat” in this case.

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The second line of the poem “The Drum” personifies the drum. “I hate that drums discordant sound, parading round, and round, and round,” a drum cannot physically parade, it needs to be carried by a human, but there is no mention of a human controlling this drum any where in this poem.

In the third line of “The Drum”, it says “to thoughtless youth it pleasure yields” meaning that to young boys whom are either unintelligent, or just don’t know the severity of war, and therefore simply have not thought about the decision to sign up to war. “pleasure ...

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A good attempt to compare the poems and looks at the relevant elements of language and structure. I would like to see further exploration of form as this is essential to effective interpretation of poetry. 4 Stars