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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. Marked by a teacher

    A Comparison of the poem "Disabled" by Wilfred Owen and the song, "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" by Eric Bogle.

    3 star(s)

    He only thought about how smart the soldiers look while they salute and other such army etiquette ("For daggers in plaid socks; of smart solutes"), and how he would be marching amongst them. But the war changed him. In the present he is in hospital and is crippled by the war, "Legless, sewn short at elbow". He can no longer play football or party with the girls, "Now he will never feel again how slim girls' waists are, or how warm their subtle hands".

    • Word count: 980
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. Marked by a teacher

    A Comparison of "Who's for the Game" and "Dulce et Decorum est".

    3 star(s)

    It gives the idea it will be easy to cope with and that it will be fun. "the red crashing game of a fight" In this line the word 'Game is used again, the word fight in this means a small harmless fight. Pope does this as it makes the poem sound light hearted and persuasive. It makes the poem persuasive, as many people would want to join up for the war if it was how pope made it sound, 'like a Game'. Pope also uses words like "who'll grip and tackle the job" This language is normally associated in games.

    • Word count: 3490
  5. 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
  6. Marked by a teacher

    Compare and contrast attitudes to war illustrated in Jessie Pope’s ‘Who’s for the game?’ and Wilfred Owen’s ‘Dulce etDecorum est’ and ‘Disabled’.

    3 star(s)

    He also wanted to obliterate the image of war created by war propaganda. Wilfred Owen particularly hated Jessie Pope because of her lighthearted attitude towards war portrayed in her poems. Wilfred Owen was finally machine-gunned to death a week before the armistice was signed. 'Who's for the Game?' was a poem written by Jessie Pope used as a piece of propaganda telling men to recruit. It exploits the fact that it was every man's duty to fight on behalf of his country.

    • Word count: 3373
  7. 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
  8. Marked by a teacher

    How Does Owen Use Nature To Convey His Feelings About War?

    3 star(s)

    Another thing that nature portrays is love and protection. Not all nature was used to portray pain. In Spring offensive, he uses several terms to portray love and protection; "And though the summer oozed into their veins Like an injected drug for their bodies' pains," This quote shows that that nature can be used to benefit the soldiers, by giving them strength to go on and fight. Nature can also benefit the soldiers, by giving them camouflage, and to protect them from harm, so that the German soldiers cannot see them.

    • Word count: 754
  9. Marked by a teacher

    Why was the World War One not over by Christmas 1914?

    3 star(s)

    The Schlieffen Plan was Germany's only plan for war. The idea was very simple and the Germans thought that it would work. The plan was that the Germans would declare war on Russia and the Russians would take six weeks to get their army ready. So the Germans thought that they had six weeks to go through Belgium to avoid the heavy French forces on the border of France and Germany. Then they would go through France and surround Paris and the Germans thought that without Paris the French would surrender and then the rest of the Germans would go to the Russians and fight them.

    • Word count: 970
  10. 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
  11. 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
  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

    "The Soldier" by Rupert Brooke: Language, theme and treatment of the subject matter

    3 star(s)

    At the beginning of the sonnet, the poet states that one should "think only this of me". The choice of the word "only" shows how the poet believes that the following is what is worth thinking about and that they should not bother about anything else concerning his death. This already shows how he ignores the fact about the cruelty of war and how he believes that personal loyalty to the country overrides everything else, even the losing of large numbers of young men's lives. In the next line, he writes about how, if he dies, there would be "some corner of a foreign field/ That is for ever England".

    • Word count: 586
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. Marked by a teacher

    The differences and similarities between Wilfred Owens 'Dulce ET Decorum EST' and Julian Grenfells 'Into Battle'

    3 star(s)

    Therefore he feels that God is in favour of war, because God created nature and its laws and with animals in nature it's only the survival of the fittest to win, and Grenfell feels the same, which war is natures way of sorting out the strongest humans to survive. Throughout the second verse of Owens poem, he explains about someone's experience of being gassed. Owen goes into detail of how the gas has an immediate effect on the man, "but someone was still yelling out...

    • Word count: 963
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  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. Marked by a teacher

    Suicide in the Trenches

    The boy is described as carefree with no worries and sees nothing bad in life; he was a normal boy. He is able to sleep with no worries in a "lonesome" place with no light or hope unaware that his life is to change dramatically.

    • Word count: 361
  25. Peer reviewed

    The World of words in Wilfred Owens Anthem For Doomed Youth and Dulce Et Decorum Est

    5 star(s)

    The title, Anthem for Doomed Youth', gives the first impression of the poem. An anthem is a song of praise, perhaps sacred, so we get the impression that the poem might me about something religious or joyous. However, the Anthem is for Doomed Youth is obviously negative. The title basically summarizes what the poem is; a mixture of thoughts related to religion and death, irony, and cynicism. The poem doesn't slowly start to focus on the point he's making: there is an immediacy of war with the usage of present tense. Plus, it starts with a rhetorical question.

    • Word count: 3520

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