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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

    Compare the presentation of the psychological effects of war on the individual in 'Regeneration' and 'Journey's End'.

    5 star(s)

    This reference shows the absence of the concept of time in the war, and the desperation of the soldiers for the fighting to end. Sherriff uses the aspect of food throughout the play, again through the character Trotter to create bathos, light-hearted relief against the true reality of death. Trotter's constant desire for food, "what a lovely smell of bacon!" and the humour created by this, "war's bad enough with pepper - but war without pepper it's- it's bloody awful" provides a contrast in the play, as it gives the audience a sense of normality, and shows a common way in which soldiers often escaped the horrors of the war.

    • Word count: 2659
  2. Marked by a teacher

    Explain how the poets of Happy is England Now in the anthology Up the Line to Death present World War I

    4 star(s)

    he makes sure that everything is not as it seems. It is almost as if Gardner is trying to give a subtle hint to the reader as to what might follow in the rest of the anthology. This is juxtaposed with the poems "Happy is England Now" ("Happy...") and "England to Her Sons" ("England..."), which are very pro-war. The contextual nature of the poets can be looked at to determine the way they present war. For example, although Hodgson wrote "England..." before the war started, nevertheless he knew that he was going to go there and fight.

    • Word count: 2201
  3. Marked by a teacher

    Choose 3 poems by Wilfred Owen that look at different aspects of war. Compare how Owen deals with each aspect and consider what his overall message might be.

    4 star(s)

    In mid 1918 Owen began to think about publishing his work, however due to his untimely death he only got as far as selecting the poems he wanted to include. In addition he wrote a draft version of a preface for his collection of poems and this incomplete draft has become one of the most famous pieces in English literature. In this short statement Owen explains what he is writing for. He is not writing for something superficial or amusing, nor is he trying to entertain for a brief moment.

    • Word count: 2395
  4. Marked by a teacher

    How does Blackadder Goes Forth satirize the First World War and how does it fit into the situation comedy genre as a whole?

    4 star(s)

    Blackadder goes forth is also different from the usual sit-com as it is the same situation every episode. The majority of sit-coms don't do this, instead they are based in the same place, but with a different humorous situation with which the characters have to deal with. In Blackadder Goes Forth the situation is exactly the same just the characters deal with it differently. The situation is that Blackadder himself is trying to escape and relieve himself of the hideous atrocities of the First World War.

    • Word count: 2739
  5. Marked by a teacher

    Explore how the theme of love is presented in Birdsong and a selection of poems by Wilfred Owen.

    4 star(s)

    This image of fearlessness, commitment and love for your country was heavily supported and can be appreciated when reading the poetry of Jessie Pope. Her poems are often used to demonstrate the sentiments on the home front, and are commonly taught in opposition to the ideas of the major war poets, including Wilfred Owen. In particular, his poem Dulce Et Decorum Est is studied as a direct antagonism of Pope's views and beliefs�. In this poem Owen's use of strong diction and vivid figurative language such as; "In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, He plunges at me, guttering,

    • Word count: 2527
  6. Marked by a teacher

    Wilfred Owen's Anthem for Doomed Youth and Siegfried Sassoon's Attack - Explore the ways in which Sassoon's and Owen's words convey powerful feelings about the First World War in these two poems.

    4 star(s)

    Owen had the same views on the war but his work had not yet been published but when he met Sassoon at Craig Lockhart Hospital during the war Sassoon noticed his talent as a poet and it was there that Owen was most inspired writing poems such as 'Anthem for Doomed Youth'. Wilfred Owen's 'Anthem for Doomed Youth' is a fine example of a poem which attacks the glory of war. It starts with a rhetorical question- 'What passing bells for those who die as cattle?'

    • Word count: 2023
  7. Marked by a teacher

    Compare and contrast the ways in which the theme of Human Suffering is presented in the novel Birdsong, by Sebastian Faulks and the poems of Wilfred Owen.

    4 star(s)

    However, when they got to the front lines these men found they had been lied to. They had to endure weather conditions so harsh that some of them froze to death or died of heat exposure, live in small wet trenches that had been dug into the ground and that would often be held up with the bodies of comrades they had had to watch being shot to pieces on the battle fields. The men that survived the war were angry and bitter, they felt that they had been raped of their youth and lied to by the government and army officials who had promised them that they would heroes.

    • Word count: 2606
  8. Marked by a teacher

    'Who for the Game' By Jesse Pope, 'Dulce Et Decorum Est' By Wilfred Owen, and 'Disabled' by Wilfred Owen.

    4 star(s)

    Verse one tells us a lot about the condition, both physically and mentally of the men and it gives us an idea of the appalling conditions! He portrays this by his continuous use of similes, metaphors and vocabulary. He uses similes such as, "Bent double, like hags", this simile shows how many of the men fall ill! Owen also uses metaphors such as, "Drunk with fatigue", to display how tired the men are, this metaphor leads us to believe that the men are so tired that they are unaware what is happening around them!

    • Word count: 2509
  9. Marked by a teacher

    Compare and contrast the ways in which the horrors of war are presented in Regeneration by Pat Barker and Journeys end

    3 star(s)

    The chosen medium for Journeys End is the theatre and this has benefits, but also creates problems. The staging on the theatre can show dim lights, flashes, sounds of trench fighting and no mans land, however the stage can only show detail up to a certain extent. For example, when Trotter says, "have your revolver to shoot rats". Although the stage can create sounds of scuffling and squeaking of the rats, it is unable to have real rats running around.

    • Word count: 2112
  10. Marked by a teacher

    Why did the First World War affect the people of Britain in so many different ways?

    3 star(s)

    But they did not know the horrors they were to face. Recruiting campaigns persuaded men to join. They talked about the better world, which would follow victory and whipped up hatred against the Germans. Friends joined up together; some villages and teams lost all their young men on the same day. People never imagined it would be like this. The Govt then decided to introduce conscription. The conscripted were affected differently from the volunteers because this forced all men aged 18-41 to join the services. This affected the men because they were now forced to leave their jobs.

    • Word count: 2740
  11. Marked by a teacher

    Compare and Contrast Wilfred Owen's "Dulce et Decorum Est and Shakespeare's Speech From Henry V.

    3 star(s)

    men, as when they left they would have desperately ran to escape from these flares, but instead they are too tired so they just turned their backs. The next line "and towards are distant rest began to trudge" reinforces the state of the men, as they are trudging, whereas when they left they would have been marching. This line also describes the rest as "distant", giving the feeling of a long agonising wait for rest and this is further emphasised by the word "trudge".

    • Word count: 2771
  12. Marked by a teacher

    In what ways were the lives of people at home affected by the Second World War?

    3 star(s)

    It is very reliable, because it was produced by the government and is purely information. It is also clear, and very concise. Its weaknesses are that it doesn't say how people were effected by rationing, and how successful the pamphlet was during World War II. Blackouts were another effect of World War II. Blackouts were used so German aeroplanes couldn't see large, populated cities. Street lights were turned out, people had to buy thick dark curtains and had to drive without headlights on. This meant that is was difficult to drive. Traffic lights were also blacked out, and in some circumstances people talked without knowing who they were actually talking to.

    • Word count: 2630
  13. Marked by a teacher

    Hero's Journey "Mulan"

    Fa Zhou accepted the call even though he was injured. The call was dreaded because of her father's injury. Stage 1: Departure Step 2. Refusal of the Call This paragraph will consist of whether or not the hero refuses the call. The call is originally for Fa Zhou, but Mulan replaces him. Mulan does not think her father should answer to the call. She is the only one who speaks up out of her family, Mulan, Fa Zhou, Mulan's mom Fa Li, and Mulan's grandmother Grandma Fa, her dad tells her to be quiet. She decides she has to do something.

    • Word count: 2555
  14. Peer reviewed

    "With Specific focus on Wilfred Owen poems Disabled, Mental cases, Dulce et Decorum est, the send off and Anthem For Doomed Youth evaluate the methods Owen uses to bring across his convictions, feelings and ideas to you, the reader" (i have referred also

    4 star(s)

    His poems are definitely one of the few things admirable things to be brought out of the war following his death on 4th November 1918, only one week before the war ended. The title is pretty self- explanatory, focused only upon the mind and the upshot that war has distorted it from its 'normal' process of philosophy and action, Mental Cases can be drawn out from the rest of the poems Wilfred Owen wrote as it solely focuses itself on this inimitable ingredient of the war.

    • Word count: 2355
  15. How does Owen show that even Nature has turned against the soldiers in "Exposure".)

    I am going to analyse the poem 'Exposure', which clearly displays all of Owens's thoughts, doubts and fears. I will particularly focus on the fact that Owen emphasises nature as an enemy to the soldiers as well as the opposition. The poem does not only use nature in one context, it varies throughout and I will how he creates this effect and why it is so effective to express his views. Firstly, the title 'Exposure' can be drawn to a number of metaphorical conclusions by the reader as it is a deliberately ambiguous title. For example, it could be the physical exposure to which they are revealed, the conditions that are expressed, the uncovering of the soldiers fears and doubts, all exposed within war situations.

    • Word count: 2273
  16. How far and in what ways does Owen present the youth in Anthem for Doomed Youth? Pay close attention to the language, tone and form of the poem. Remember to consider the poem in light of other poems by Owen.

    Pay close attention to the language, tone and form of the poem. Remember to consider the poem in light of other poems by Owen and in view of the context in which he was writing. "...for these who die as cattle." How far and in what ways does Owen present the youth in "Anthem for Doomed Youth"? Pay close attention to the language, tone and form of the poem. Remember to consider the poem in light of other poems by Owen and in view of the context in which he was writing.

    • Word count: 2063
  17. Consider the ways in which Owen presents his feelings about war in "The Show" and how this poem relates to the methods and concerns of other poems

    Instead they create an image of an insect which is convulsing and probably having a very painful death but not one which we can relate to as our feelings are quite detached from them. I think that this continued parallel between the soldiers and the caterpillars is an interesting one because although the many of the words and phrases used have connotations of pain and suffering, somehow these feelings do not affect us as much as they could have done if we were given a more human face to attach the feelings to.

    • Word count: 2415
  18. What difference did the experience of fighting in the First World War make to the way poets wrote about war?

    'The fewer men the greater share of honour.' 'Strip his sleeve and show his scars.' The idea that people will celebrate these heroic figures for years to come; 'he'll remember with advantages.' This poem glorifies the heroic figures of war, which in turn can be used to manipulate soldiers into joining the forces. Tennyson's poem 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' also honours the sacrifice of the men who died in the battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War. Like the first extract, soldiers were praised for their bravery and referred to as: 'Noble six hundred.'

    • Word count: 2538
  19. English-War Poetry

    A few lines further on it says in the poem ''One from the east, one from the west; their shields. Dash'd with a clang together, and a din Rose'', this shows that it is a very dramatic battle and the word ' din' is out in to a good context, showing the brunt of the battle subtly with the use of onomatopoeia, but the word 'din' in this context is a hyperbole. The use of the word 'east' and 'west' could have been used in the context of symbolism, it is similar to the sun rising in the 'east' and

    • Word count: 2094
  20. Did women's contributions to the First World War significantly affect constructions of gender at the time, and in the inter-war period?

    This was especially seen prior to the First World War such as at the turn of the century with the Boer War (1899-1902). Women were unconcerned with war, as it did not concern the home front; due to the regular army consisting of working class men the war effort did not affect the majority of society. Industry and the domestic sphere, to which women were concerned, were left uninterrupted. 'Women's work' had no function within the war effort until the First World War eclipsed Britain.

    • Word count: 2959
  21. Compariosn of pre 1914 and wilfred owen's poems

    He uses the simile: "Beat through life like a torch in flame" to portray how the schoolboys have responsibilities and also to show how these must be passed down through the generations to protect their country, just like the Olympic torch. War is also compared to a game in Henry V's speech in Shakespeare's play, Henry V. He declares: 'The game's afoot," once again understating the enormity of the battle. In addition Shakespeare uses the battle cry "God for Harry, England and Saint George!"

    • Word count: 2769
  22. Compare and contrast the poets' presentation of war in 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' by Tennyson and 'Dulce et Decorum est' by Wilfred Owen.

    This image makes the soldiers appear weak and lowers the status of the soldiers to ordinary people. This instantly changes the original perception of how soldiers should be and the 'wall like' image of the soldiers in the readers mind is contradicted. In contrast in 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' the soldiers are described as 'half a league'. This quote is visual and the reader imagines the soldiers to be wall like. This imagery makes the soldiers seem strong, defensive and almost unbeatable. There is a big contrast between the two poems as 'Dulce et Decorum est' humanises the soldiers because of the ruthless and graphic style of writing signifying the way in which the soldiers have been broken apart from their 'wall like' structure and are in reality only human.

    • Word count: 2515
  23. Free essay

    The Tribulations of War - An Essay by Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and her Children

    Moreover, she also places her children in danger by traveling to the root of evil. In my opinion, there are certain characteristics that distinguish the differences between immoral and moral conduct, and in Mother Courage and Her Children Mother Courage violates all of that moral conduct. A recruiting officer once claims, "There's no loyalty left in the world, no trust, no faith, no sense of honor" (Brecht 23). Mother Courage is the epitome of this quotation. She is selfish by nature, and her profiteering wrecks her family as well as anyone else who stands in her way.

    • Word count: 2237
  24. English War poetry 1

    The Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna is written using a basic A B A B rhyming scheme. The Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna shows these views, of glory, and heroism. The poem is about Sir John Moore, a fallen soldier, being buried after a battle. We get the impression straight away he is of some nobility by his title of 'sir', and that he has had a poem written about him. You also see the view of him being a hero, as at the end of the poem, it says that they 'left him alone with his glory' showing him in a glorified way.

    • Word count: 2138
  25. Discuss the first world war as reflected in the poem of the time

    The poems I will look at are "Whose for the Game", "The Soldier", "Dulce Et Decorum Est" and "Suicide In The Trenches." 'Who For the Game' was written by Jesse Pope to encourage young men to fight this was basically propaganda it exploited the fact that it was young men's duty to go and fight for their country's. This is apparent in 'Who's for the Game'. Jessie Pope makes us feel that war is not excruciating pain but just a game and this is apparent in the first two lines of the poem.

    • Word count: 2736

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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