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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.

  • Marked by Teachers essays 50
  • Peer Reviewed essays 7
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  1. Marked by a teacher

    The idea of the experiment is to determine which equation is correct. There are 2 equations of CuCo3 and I have to find out which gases are given off when CuCo3 is given off.

    5 star(s)

    It is a basic oxide forming copper (II) salts with acids. It decomposes above 1000�C into copper (I) oxide and oxygen. CuO 2CuO(s) +CO2 (g) Heated CuO is reduced to metallic copper by hydrogen and CO2. Copper (II) oxide also reacts with acids to form blue salts. CuO(S)+H2SO4(aq) CuSo4(aq) +H2O(l) Copper (I) oxide is used in organic analysis, and as a catalyst in that thermal decomposition of potassium trioxochlorate (V). Copper (I) oxide Cu2O Copper (I) oxide is obtained by reducing an alkaline solution of copper (II) salts. It's colour is a red precipitate. This reaction is the one used to identify reducing sugars in the Fehling's and Benedict's tests. Copper (I) oxide reacts with dilute tetraoxosulphate (VI)

    • Word count: 1517
  2. Marked by a teacher

    Happy is England Now

    4 star(s)

    The theme of idealism can be seen in the phrase 'As the new passion stirring in their veins, When the destroying dragon wakes from sleep.' In the phrase England is personified to have passion building in its blood and body which is also ironic as during war there is a lot of blood shed. There is use of alliteration in 'destroying dragon' which is emphasising Germany as being a deadly beast. This also brings to mind the idea of George and the dragon where George is the saviour for England fighting for everyone which gives a sense of patriotism and is a use of propaganda to influence people to join the war effort.

    • Word count: 1055
  3. Marked by a teacher

    Compare and Contrast the Two War Poems -'Dulce Et Decorum Est' and 'The Charge of The Light Brigade'

    4 star(s)

    He describes a valiant charge 'into the jaws of death' which gives the impression that they were brave and extremely noble to go through such terrible surroundings, like the cannons that 'volleyed and thundered' to cause their untimely death. Both poets came from different classes. Owen's background was working class whereas Tennyson's was upper class. Owen shared the voice of the people and could empathise with soldiers. However Tennyson had the views of an upper class citizen, and, in my opinion, he seemed to care more about his country than the soldiers.

    • Word count: 1788
  4. Marked by a teacher

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

    4 star(s)

    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.

    • Word count: 1010
  5. Marked by a teacher

    War poetry comparision The Drum & Dulce et Decorum est.

    4 star(s)

    John Scott who was a Quaker and opposed to all violence wrote "The Drum" in 1782. Wilfred Owen was a soldier in the First World War. The things that he witnessed during this time left him deeply scarred; he expressed his feelings in his poems. The title of the poem "The Drum" refers to the recruiting drum played around the countryside by the army. The Drum is associated with war and in this poem as well as in the poem "On The Idle Hill" its use is clear. The first verse gives us the background to the drums use.

    • Word count: 1426
  6. Marked by a teacher

    Discuss the use of symbolism in the novel Fly Away Peter

    4 star(s)

    1 - Chpt. 1) In Jim's eye, the swamplands seem to be a good representation of the world, with the different types of birds representing the different cultures and nations. Just as in real life, we have the higher ranks of birds i.e. the hawks and kestrels, the smaller submissive pigeons and various ranks in between. Another strong symbol within the opening chapter of the novel is that of the bi-plane, which Jims observes, flying over the swamplands. The bi-plane is a disturbance to the birds, which is described as they "scattered and flew up in all directions." (Pg.

    • Word count: 1800
  7. Marked by a teacher

    A Comparison of Wilfred Owen's 'Dulce et Decorum est' and Lord Tennyson's

    3 star(s)

    Tennyson uses repetition frequently to show the power and force of the cavalry, he also uses several powerful images trying to put the British in as the winning people. In comparison Owen uses many different rhythmic lines. "Bent doubles, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-need, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, Till on the haunting flares we turned our back And towards our distant rest began to trudge." The rhythm of the language changes according to what the soldiers are doing, there they are tired and finding it difficult to walk, their steps are slow and laboured like language.

    • Word count: 1154
  8. Marked by a teacher

    Presentation of In Flanders Fields - script

    3 star(s)

    This seems to distance the natural world from the world of war, as if they don't belong together. * This symbolises how the world carried on bravely despite the war, but the sweet, nice things could not be heard, as they were drowned out by the sounds of war. * The military imagery of the guns is in great contrast to the beautiful natural imagery that came before and is a shock as you realise that the deaths mentioned earlier are still happening.

    • Word count: 1405
  9. Marked by a teacher

    Compare 'The Drum' by John Scott and 'The Send-off' by Wilfred Owen

    3 star(s)

    Another way Scott effectively presents his ideas is by using different language in each of the stanzas. In the first stanza it shows what the drum means to the young lads who dream of being a soldier. This gives a positive view on sacrifice, as it uses words like 'fall', which is very romanticised language. This stanza gives the idea that is very heroic and brave to die for ones country. In total contrast the second stanza shows John Scott's views on war and he shows the death that occurs is more slaughter than sacrifice. Instead of using romanticised language he says 'And mangled limbs, and dying groans,' This view gives a more graphic and realistic image to what war was really like.

    • Word count: 1241
  10. Marked by a teacher

    Show how Winifred M. Letts in

    3 star(s)

    Winifred M. Letts chose, in line 8, the phrase, "Yearns to live and not die" This creates a dramatic emphasis on how he longed and struggled to be free of the war, and go home to his family and safety. In line 13 the use of the phrase, "With eyes as wild" Gives the interpretation that he is not thinking properly, he is frightened and on edge, ready to snap at any moment. He will not listen to anyone and is alert because of the sickness of wanting to be home and worry of him getting caught.

    • Word count: 1076
  11. Marked by a teacher

    Critical Response: 'The Sentry' by Wilfred Owen.

    3 star(s)

    Owen uses alliteration to convey the persistent and constant rain and levels of water and mud. "clay" indicates the mud's swampy thickness and which connotes a fast drying sludge and near impossible conditions. "Waist high" again enforces the height of the water that the men had to fight through, which suggests that the men not only had to fight the battle against the opposition, they were also waging a war with the conditions. Owen's use of imagery continues throughout the stanza, when he depicts the sounds and smells of the trenches: "What murk of air remained stank old, and sour

    • Word count: 1286
  12. Marked by a teacher

    Compare "For The Fallen", "Henry V At The Siege Of Harfleur", and "The Soldier".

    3 star(s)

    Another word used to soften the blow of their death, is 'sleep'. Binyon givers us the impression that these men are simply asleep, and they will awake one day to reign in Heaven, as stars. The whole of this poem is telling us to remember the war heroes. Binyon makes the point many times in different ways throughout the poem, especially in reference to stars. Binyon tries to soften the fact that the men had died, by saying they will turn into 'immortal spheres', or in other words they will go to Heaven because of their bravery and goodness.

    • Word count: 1956
  13. Marked by a teacher

    The poem that I have chosen to analyse is "Exposure" by Wilfred Owen.

    3 star(s)

    The areas of the poem that I will be concentrating on are the theme of anti-war and death; his word choice and figures of speech; and his powerful use of imagery. The theme of the poem is very important, as it is the message that he is trying to get across. The title of the poem "Exposure" is very significant as it can mean three things. Exposure can mean; that the men are exposed to the terror of war, the death and suffering; the young men are exposed to the elements, the weather because they are stuck out in the trenches in terrible conditions; or to expose the reality of war to those back home, to tell them the truth.

    • Word count: 1553
  14. Marked by a teacher

    'In Memoriam' by F. A. Mackintosh, 'Death Bed' by Siegfried Sassoon and 'Dulce et Decorum est'by Wilfred Owen.

    3 star(s)

    The next three lines say: 'And the new-cut peats are rotting, And the work is left undone, Because of an old man weeping,' These lines show that the grief did affect him deeply as he is not earning a living or even keeping warm by keeping the fire going. He is to busy weeping to do anything apart from grieve. This is shown to be the fact by the next three lines: 'Just an old man in pain, For David, his son David, That will not come again.'

    • Word count: 1953
  15. Marked by a teacher

    Compare and contrast views of the First World War as presented by the poets of that era and by Pat Barker in "Regeneration".

    3 star(s)

    Regeneration is a novel which looks at the psychological damage in which war has on the soldiers. Rivers diagnoses their illness to be war neuroses, when defined it means to have a mild mental disorder. The usual form of treatment for war neuroses would be the use of electric shocks and other similar tortures. At Craig Lockhart which was a hospital specialised for officers only, Rivers instead of torture greeted his patients with sympathy and interest. Rivers encouraged them to discuss their feelings. As a psychiatrist rivers knows how to deal with the different emotional and psychological problems in which the patients faced during the war.

    • Word count: 1835
  16. Marked by a teacher

    Write a comparison between Jessie Pope's 'Who's for the Game?' and Mackintosh's 'Recruiting' considering the content, form and language in the poems.

    3 star(s)

    She writes in a conversational manner, which makes the poem more memorable and persuasive. She uses tactics in her poem to persuade men to join up; one of them is comparing the war to a 'game', implying that there is little danger on the battlefield. She also refers to the war as a sport where a player would return with a minor injury such as a crutch. Within the poem, Pope uses many questions, which involve the reader more and together with the use of everyday language gives the poem a less formal feel.

    • Word count: 1052
  17. Marked by a teacher

    Examine how the authors of Regeneration and Journeys End show how the stresses of war affect the main characters

    3 star(s)

    "I believe the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it". To other men in war this would be seen as "wrong and wimpish" because men weren't expected to do that, if you went to war you weren't seen as a coward. To Sassoon this declaration was the bravest thing he had ever done. For someone in war to write this they must have had enough and this shows the stress he was under. Barker could have used the declaration to portray her point on the futility of war. Another example of the stresses of war on Sassoon in the first chapter is when he throws away his medal for 'saving lives'.

    • Word count: 1097
  18. Marked by a teacher

    Come Up From The Fields Father and War Photographer

    3 star(s)

    He is trying to get across the idea that this war destroys normal families and stops them being happy. It creates a sad and empty atmosphere for them. The mother senses that something is wrong. She is shaking and is hurrying to see what is in the letter. We see this as Whitman uses short, stopped sentences, spoken quickly. "Fast as she hurries, something ominous, her steps trembling." As the mother gets the letter and realises that it is not her son's handwriting, but a strangers.

    • Word count: 1258
  19. Marked by a teacher

    A Critical Analysis of ‘Strange Meeting’ by Wilfred Owen

    3 star(s)

    This adds further to the argument that war is senseless and evil. Another message is set out by the line 'now men will go content with what we spoiled'. This points out that men not involved in the war will feel content with their 'achievements' and wars will go on because they do not know the evil it causes. 'None will break ranks though nations trek from progress' states that no one will dare to defy convention and wars will go on, leading everyone further away from their ultimate goal of peace.

    • Word count: 1040
  20. Marked by a teacher

    Compare Owen’s use of language in “Dulce et Decorum est” and “Futility”.

    3 star(s)

    He talks of how the sun woke him every morning and as if it whispered tasks to be done. Owen shows this by saying, "Whispering of fields half-sown." Owen compares death with sleep and thinks that if the sun can wake sleeping people then it can wake dead too. In the second verse he goes on to talk about what the sun has done in the past. He mentions how the earth was made and woken by the sun, by saying, "Woke once the clays of a cold star." In this poem Owen sees the sun as an omniscient power and a life giver.

    • Word count: 1139
  21. Marked by a teacher

    Saving Private Ryan: Film Review

    From this point the story unfolds. It shows fierce fighting on the sea front just as you would imagine. The story then goes on to the search for Private Ryan and it follows Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) and his men on their journey. When the end comes and they find Private Ryan and the battle is over its goes back to the start, where the man is standing by the grave of Captain Miller. So as you can see the film does not follow chronological order, its starts years later and goes back in time. There was a lot of suspense in the film.

    • Word count: 1602
  22. Marked by a teacher

    Compare "Mental Cases" and "Disabled"

    That was, however, "before he threw away his knees." This is another blunt remark - a little detached and objective but straight to the point. Now, girls "touch him like some queer disease." He is now no longer an attractive young man but he seems almost like a repulsive old man. While last year he appeared "younger than his youth", "Now he is old". The irony in him now being the disgust of girls now is that he actually went to war to impress the women - "to please his Meg".

    • Word count: 1093
  23. Marked by a teacher

    How the views of Poets on war and patriotism have changed since the 1900s.

    play up! and play the game!", this phrase is meant to encourage the boys on the team to play with more enthusiasm and dedication. In verse two the cricket game is being linked to warfare when we are suddenly taken away to a desert where a British legion are fighting for their lives and seem to be losing to the opposing force. The British battalion are just about to give up and surrender when all of a sudden they hear the voice of a schoolboy who is quoting the line used earlier on in the poem, "play up! play up!

    • Word count: 1242
  24. Peer reviewed

    Compare: 'The Soldier' by Rupert Brooke, 'Futility' by Wilfred Owen, and 'Anthem For Doomed Youth' also by Wilfred Owen, are all on the theme of war.

    4 star(s)

    Anthems are glorious, celebratory songs, and by no means is the poem joyous. Naturally, the title 'Futility' also leads the reader into an expectation of a poem describing the pointlessness of war. Although the title 'The Soldier' is not directly celebratory of the dead warrior in response to which the poem was written; it is clearly respectful, as by naming the poem in the way the author did, an entire poem is dedicated in the memory of the deceased. In 'Futility', a very tender feeling is captivated in the opening lines: "Move him into the sun- Gently its touch awoke him once, At home, whispering of fields unsown."

    • Word count: 1455
  25. How the character of Stephen is portrayed by Faulks in Birdsong.

    He also isn't a man of huge class and much effort put into his clothing; '..and hung his spare suit in the giant carved wardrobe.' The description of the wardrobe in this sentence shows that Stephen isn't used to such luxury nor a lot of space for himself. The room in which Stephen is given in the novel, portrays what kind of man Stephen is, as I feel was included purposely by Faulks; 'The room was simple, but had been decorated with some care.

    • Word count: 1996

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • To what extent are the 'war' poems you have read protesting the wars they describe?

    "In conclusion, readers infer that all poems mentioned deal with the same theme and present the same moral. They deal with soldiers who have lost their lives as a result to the war, there deaths may not seem for a cause in all five poems. They contain a different historical context. Hardy portrays war as a wasteful event when he links himself to Jesus, who's death was meaningful. He shows readers how man neglects those in need and how nature plays the role of our mother, through both of his poems. Whitman, again visualilses death as waste yet he personally engages with the victim of the war. This contrast can be as a result of him 'nursing' the injured and dead during the time of the Civil War. He brings life to the dead and responds to them himself, whereas Hardy allows nature to respond to the dead making his poem impersonal. I personally think all poems are very effective due to the contrast between the style of the poets. They allow us to see the effects of war in which they lived through two different approaches. Mahmoud El Hazek English Coursework 04-02-03 Rough Draft Mr. A. Thirkell 1"

  • Wilfred Owen Poems - Discuss how Owen conveys the pity and horror of war in these two poems.

    "When I first found out in Mr. Spahr's class that we were going to do War poetry coursework I feared, I wouldn't admire Wilfred Owens's work as I don't really like war poetry as most writers/poets talk about the glory and honour of war, which I find foolish as I believe wars are a waste of life and money. However, Owen is indeed different he wrote to inform the ordinary person the, "Untold truth" of war and in his work he criticises the government too, who sent an entire generation to their doom. Furthermore, in his work unlike others, Owen makes you feel devastating pity for the soldiers involved in the war and this made me realise what an absolute genius Wilfred Owen really is."

  • Compare and contrast the work of Owen and Heller in their treatment of war.

    "The facetious nature of Catch 22 rather fittingly exemplifies Heller's resentment and rebellion towards conventional attitudes to war. In my opinion, to use General Peckem's words 'It never escaped his memory that neither black nor white was a colour' would to some extent help explain his motives for using humour in this novel. Heller uses humour as an attack against the established panorama of war. Peckems words evoke a subtle question, why should we observe the world in black and white and decide where things are and are not appropriate? Humour rebels against our subconscious extraction of its presence, fighting against the norm. Of course, If Owen where to adopt a similar humorous approach to his work, this would perhaps vanquish his objective to resist any poetic skill or effort. In the same way, Heller uses a character like Milo to 'paint' over the American ethos, Owen uses this technique to demonstrate how war has encroached the beauty of laughter. 'Treading blood from lungs that had loved laughter'. Owen gives blood a kind of discomforting persona. It becomes the enemy that has taken over territory, pre-occupying the lungs."

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