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AS and A Level: War Poetry

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Writing about World War One poetry

  1. 1 Although it is easy to try and position poems as either ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ war this is quite a simplistic division. Many poems have an ambiguous attitude, perhaps demonstrating a variety of thoughts and ideas. Be sure to assess possibilities of different perspectives within poems as well as between them.
  2. 2 It can be useful to analyse World War One poetry in comparison to other war poems written both before and after.
  3. 3 Studying the female voice offers a different perspective on the war.
  4. 4 Some contextual knowledge of the time and of the poets is helpful, although this information should only be used if directly relevant to the question and if it enhances poetic analysis and contributes to meaningful discussion.
  5. 5 With any poetry it is unwise to try and guess at how the poets were ‘feeling’ about their experiences. Keep focused on the poems themselves.

When analysing poetry you might like to consider some of the following

  1. 1 The perspective, tone and register of narrator is a good place to start analysis. Remember that these can differ within poems. Be sure also to distinguish between the poet and the narrative voice.
  2. 2 Titles, openings and endings can be a good way to start your analysis.
  3. 3 Look for patterns and oppositions (or lack of) that emerge.
  4. 4 Consider effects of other poetic techniques such as: use of imagery, semantic fields, phonological devices etc.
  5. 5 Consider the effects of structure and form; it is important to recognise the insights this analysis can provide.

Writing essays on World War One poetry

  1. 1 All essays should be well planned with clear points which enable a progressive structure.
  2. 2 Introductions should clearly address the question, perhaps determining position of argument/discussion to follow.
  3. 3 Each paragraph should ideally begin with a topic sentence which addresses the question, evidence from the poem/s to support the point (with quotes embedded), and detailed analysis using appropriate technical terminology. Remember that feature spotting does not demonstrate any useful knowledge and understanding of a poem.
  4. 4 If relevant, contextual references to World War One or the poets can inform and develop points and comparative points with other war poems (from before and after) are often insightful.
  5. 5 A concise conclusion should make a final summary that directly addresses the question. Ensure all essays are proof-read to avoid errors.

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  1. "We only need the Pope there is no need for other people to help him."

    This means he cannot make mistakes so there would be no need for others to help him. Also if he was elected as pope the cardinals would have a lot of faith in him so he should be able to make good decisions about the church alone. Also, having one leader making decisions by himself gives Catholics one central person to look up.

    • Word count: 594
  2. World War One History Coursework Q1

    This advert suggests that brave British men who are "friends" should join the army and fight. Many of the men who enlisted at the time were not educated to a great extent so playing on their emotions was a definite way to manipulate and get men to enlist e.g. the case of William Dove: "They showed the Fleet sailing the high seas and played 'Britons Never Shall Be Slaves' and 'Hearts Of Oak'. And you know one feels that little shiver run up the back and you know you have got to do something." Pressure from women also persuaded men to enlist.

    • Word count: 790
  3. evaluation of war coursework

    In the end both families ended up dead and the moral of the story was in war people have to die and there are no winners. Others groups had a similar devised drama to us, their plays were all about war, and another group also did families at war. There performance was different because they did a Romeo and Juliet type of story where a boy loved a girl form another family problem was there families hated each other. Like our play there's ended in death, the children who loved each other ended up dead.

    • Word count: 971
  4. Impact on World War One

    The German had already planed the invasion of Belgium for twelve years ahead the war. The war started because the German leader, Kaiser, was jealous of the British Empire and wanted a greater one. The British got involved because the French were getting attacked by the Germans from all directions and in 1817, the British leader at that time signed an agreement saying that they had to help the French in difficult times. This war effected the men greatly because this was the time to show there loyalty and commitment to the country. This was helped by the propaganda that was sent to them, telling them they had to for fill their duty and to show that they are men.

    • Word count: 771
  5. Christians generally believe that war is wrong and that God wants everyone to live in peace

    * The reason for war must be just. It should not be for greed or revenge, but a genuine attempt to make the world a better place. * The cause of the war must be to try and establish good or correct evil. * The war must be a last resort. * The force used in the war should not be over the top and directed at military people instead of civilians. Christians today still use these guidelines when deciding whether to support their country's decision.

    • Word count: 881
  6. In what ways did the lives of women change during the war as a result of their work outside the home?

    When the men left to go to war they took over the jobs that the men left behind. Women began to work in manufacturing and engineering; they worked in factories making air craft, bombs and tanks. They drove busses worked as butchers and bakers became postal workers, in fact, any job that was previously considered to be mans work now became women's work. Until now it was a common belief that women couldn't do these jobs because working in manufacture and engineering were all considered to be men's work and that women were not physically or mentally capable to do them adequately.

    • Word count: 839
  7. Compare the ways on which two poems from this section convey powerful pictures of life in the trenches - 'The Dug-Out' and 'Breakfast'.

    The poet chooses to use the metaphor of a candle to portray the solder's dying as the burning out of a candle. The alliteration 'guttering gold' emphasizes the candle imagery and also shares the pain with the reader. 'You wonder why' is in narrative voice shows the rejection putting a sense of hopeless. The last two lines are in italic and this highlights its importance. The metaphor of 'fall asleep for ever' symbolizes the death and this 'remind[s]' the poet of the other 'dead[s]'.

    • Word count: 583
  8. Base Details is a poem by Siegfried Sassoon and is about how betteroff the majors were in the First World War, compared to the good men

    He says what he would be like and do if he was a major and makes a mockery out of them. He also tries to show injustice because the old soldiers lived and the young, fit soldiers died. The words used in this poem are very simple and direct but are very effective. Sassoon proves that the majors are lazy and in poor condition by using certain words and sentences, 'If I was fierce, and bald, and out of breath, I'd be with the scarlet majors at the base'.

    • Word count: 698
  9. Why Was There A Stalemate? Due to a change in the nature of warfare, it had become easier to defend than attack for a number of reasons:

    Also, war had become industrialised and the Western Front was dominated by rapid, accurate and powerful artillery. This helped to create No Mans Land. * Although there was a naval blockade on Germany, it took years to make any difference and so this made very little difference. * The failure of the Schlieffen plan, and the subsequent lack of any sort of contingency plan, resulted in the Germans having to dig in, in retreat. Initially this was just a temporary measure, but as stalemate developed they dug deeper into trenches on the Western Front.

    • Word count: 733
  10. Literary Review of Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell.

    Her one goal in life was to gain the affections of Ashley, the man she wished to marry. Nothing else mattered to Scarlett O'Hara at the time. "Land is the only thing in the world that amounts to anything, for 'tis the only thing in this world that lasts," her father would tell her, yet O'Hara's head was filled with adolescent affections for Ashley, and no common sense could make her think otherwise. In her opinion, success would be to marry Ashley, no matter what the situation, and everything else would be failure.

    • Word count: 866
  11. Letze Jahr im August, ich war in Zypern geflogen weil ich bin griechisch, es war glnzend!!! Ich bin mit meiner familie dorthin gefahren, wir sind zwei wochen gebliebn, mit dem zug. Ich bereisen Limmasol, Phaphos and Larnica

    Ich bin mit meiner familie dorthin gefahren, wir sind zwei wochen gebliebn, mit dem zug. Ich bereisen Limmasol, Phaphos and Larnica und ich besuchen meine familie. Ich meine oma gebleien, in deiner fein f�nf stern hotel gewohnt! Aber das hotel war tuer! und die aufzug war kaputt! wir hast halbpension. Ich haben am zweiten tag ins swimmbad, dann eine rundfahrt gemacht.

    • Word count: 222
  12. Compare and Contrast the way in which the poet presents war in 'On the Idle Hill' and 'The Drum' by Mahmoud Elsherif.

    Housman never partook in any war but heard about the terror of it from other people's experiences. The first verse portrays a peaceful, happy and a warm scene. Words such as 'summer', 'sleepy' and 'streams' emphasises this. However, the 'steady drummer' cuts through this peaceful atmosphere. It is the sound of the army coming, looking for new recruits to go to war with them. The first stanza seems to be about the drum and how it calls people to war and tears them away from their homes. The line; 'Drumming like a noise in dreams.'

    • Word count: 569
  13. Eine schreckliche Verabredung mit... Luke Meine Verabredung letztes Freitag war furchtbar und sehr langweilig! Luke

    Luke hatte lange fettige braune Haare und graue Augen. Er war sehr gross, sehr h�sslich und wirklich schlaksig. Aber, er war ziemlich freundlich. Sein Leiblingshobby war trainspotting! Wir waren sehr verschie den weil er unheimliche Interessen gehabt! Auch, er hat seinem Hund gebracht. Das Hund war nass und �bel riechend! Wir sind nach Part in Birghton gefahren.

    • Word count: 214
  14. Sun Tzu-The Art of War

    There were many situations that arose, and things discussed in this book that could, and should, apply to the world today. In the world today we are presented with the situation of an aggressive war. Mo Ti states that if a man kills an innocent man it is considered unrighteous. But when murder is committed in attacking a country it is not considered wrong; it is applauded and called righteous. I agree with this statement and feel that this applies to the United States today.

    • Word count: 606
  15. The impact of the Second World War for women was very high. Women had the chance to feel equal again, they felt they could talk their mind and have their say in most things.

    If you were a women You could be a lookout on the homefront for enemy planes. Also on the homefront, you could do things like work in Victory Gardens. Often women went to work in the factories. You could also be a nurse. That was a very hard and scary job. You had a high chance of being hurt because you went where the fighting was. Uniforms for women helping out during World War II weren't only needed, they also gave the women wearing them pride. The Women's Land Army was made up of women who milked, took care of livestock, and drove tractors.

    • Word count: 521
  16. Wilfred Owen's poem, "Dulce et Decorum est",

    It is the destruction but yet the mockery of old men in suits looking down at a war map deciding which young man will set out first to be the target of death. "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" (It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country) is the lie that Wilfred Owen so honorably is set out to destroy in his poem "Dulce et Decorum est." When it comes to war, the governing estates wish to get as many soldiers to show up to a war as possible; by presenting such a Service Mark as the

    • Word count: 946
  17. What was life like in the trenches? The First World War was the first industrialised conflict; it is also associated more than anything else for trench warfare. Trenches were used because the speed and power of the larger weapons,

    "The real test was the barrage. Some hid their heads in their great-coats. Some wept; others joked hysterically. But all shock and crawled, white-faced in dull endurance. "How long? How long?" men would ask themselves again and again. Men had no choice but to last out, nerves pared to the bone". Another weapon used was gas. Usually chloride or mustard, which made men who inhaled it cough up their burnt up lungs in clots. It was helpless to attempt to save them. Gas was first used by the Germans during an attack on Ypres during 1915.

    • Word count: 918
  18. "Anthem for Doomed Youth"

    Throughout the poem, Owen provides highly emotive language to convey the idea of war's brutality. Predominantly, the octet of the poem offers a merciless impression to the reality of the battlefields: "-Only the monstrous anger of the guns." (Octet line 2) These words are particularly effective as it largely contrasts with society's belief of how a civilised culture commemorates its dead. "monster" reinforces this idea of viciousness and the lack of mercy shown on a battlefield creating a deep emotional response from the reader as this is not how we as a civilised community imagine society to function.

    • Word count: 851
  19. "Compare two poems that show what the soldiers lives were really like at war". Recruiting and The Bohemians

    In comparison to this, "Recruiting" shows what the soldiers lives were really like through the type of language and tone that it uses. For example in "Recruiting" it expresses sympathy, "More poor devils like yourselves". This illustrates that the soldiers are battling in hell and therefore they are the devils. The sympathetic tone comes from the flow of the word more to poor which gives a slight emphasis on both of these word, representing more soldiers going out to war.

    • Word count: 915
  20. "Dulce Et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen

    Owen portrays the soldiers as unhealthy animals as he dehumanises them by referring to them as "beggars" and "hags". Although once belonging to the most disciplined and clean-cut of armies, "beggars" suggests the men are now desperate and tatty, "coughing like hags" is further used to highlight their unhealthiness and reveal their once young and fit bodies as old and tired. As a gas attack surprises the exhausted soldiers, Owen creates a dramatic scene in which the men push themselves to the limit to fix their helmets. Using highly dramatic punctuation and word choice, Owen exposes the shock and urgency the soldiers experience: "GAS!

    • Word count: 833
  21. HOW DID THE WESTERN FRONT IMPACT UPON THE LIVES OF BRITISH SOLDIERS AT WAR 1914-1916

    The British soldiers in the western front were hugely affected physically. The trenches were dug as a consequence of stalemate, where both armies could not advance, so this was where the soldiers spent most of their time. The conditions of these trenches affected the soldiers immensely. The trenches were unhygienic, with many troops living in close proximity, soldiers caught lice, and these lice were irritating and led soldiers to loose morale. They were pale, and left blotchy red bite marks all over the body, they caused frenzied scratching and left a sour smell.

    • Word count: 899
  22. A Comparison of how the poets in 'Joining the Colours' and 'the Send Off' present the soldiers going into war

    The soldiers seem excited, clearly unaware and na�ve to the outcome. They're perception is that the war will be patriotic and thrilling and this shows the possibility that the poem is set at the beginning of the war. "Down the close darkening lanes they sang their way," the soldiers are singing out of fear as a comfort - rather than cheerfulness. In 'Joining the Colours,' Hinkson illustrates the men saying goodbye to their family, however in 'The Send-Off' the station is described as being silent as it is well into the war, where many women were evacuated or working.

    • Word count: 606
  23. Because bird song and regeneration were both written in the 1990s we see that there is a different atmosphere to some of the earlier works from such authors such as D.H. Lawrence and W. Somerset Maugham.

    The moods in these two novels are very different to that of "La Tendresse" the two novels are some what more political and cover wider themes such as physiological, political fall out of war however in both regeneration and in Birdsong horrors of front line battle and difficulty of coping with times are also covered. In La Tendresse the mood is much more obvious that it is at the heart of the war because the mood is lyrical, poignant, romantic scenes contrasted with ones of intense physical and emotional suffering which at most times is a lot more detailed than the works or Faulks and Barker.

    • Word count: 688
  24. Which two mediums are most effective in conveying the horrors of war?

    These images are shocking, and the beginning scenes of the film in which the elderly, nationalistic teacher gives a passionate speech to his students inspiring them to enlist and fight are dramatically juxtaposed with later scenes of suffering, violence and death, giving the film a strong anti-war feeling. The use of juxtaposition is a common feature in films, and makes a powerful statement, changing how something appears to be. For example the audience see the brave men impassioned to enlist and excited about going to fight, so when we later see the men shell-shocked, disillusioned and in desperate situations it

    • Word count: 948
  25. The development of the coal industry

    The lamp became known as the "Miners Friend". It gave off light but a wire gauze acted as a barrier between the heat given off and any gas it might have had contact with. 2) Ventilation The main problem in ventilation was to get the bad/used air out and the good air in. There were problems of ventilation particularly as mines became deeper. Gas was an eternal problem in mines, and included: methane, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide. For miners, ventilation was a matter of life or death.

    • Word count: 708

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