"It has been said that all war poetry is violent and depressing. By looking at poems before and after 1900 see if you agree or disagree with this view." Use at least 2 poems by the same author

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Rori Donaghy 11E        22741.doc        5/1/2007

“It has been said that all war poetry is violent and depressing. By looking at poems before and after 1900 see if you agree or disagree with this view.” Use at least 2 poems by the same author

In this essay I will be analyzing the title question and find out what my view is on the opinion that all war poetry is violent and depressing. I will be studying two poems by William Shakespeare and two poems by Wilfred Owen; this will incorporate pre-1900 poetry and post-1900 poetry in my essay by using these two poets. I will also add in any quotes from other war poetry, which I feel is relevant to this essay. Firstly, I will analyze the two poems by Shakespeare, which I have chosen, Henry V at the siege of Harfleur and Before Agincourt.

The first Shakespeare poem I will be studying is Henry V at the siege of Harfleur. This poem is a speech made by Henry V during the battle of Harfleur. It is a speech, which is meant to spur the troops to victory, and also it is a very patriotic poem. The poem is all about making England and fathers proud so the king is trying to convince the army not to be scared; what do the soldiers have to be scared about? Death, although it is not talked about so the violent part of war is avoided. The poem/speech is spontaneous and frantic as it is an attempt to rally the troops for a final push.

The poem implies that the battle is in course because in the first line it says, ‘Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more’. The king is leading by example and refers to his men as equals. This is the start of him trying to rally his troops to victory. This ‘rallying cry’ is trying to make the soldiers prove themselves to be true heroes. He asks them to make their mothers, fathers and most of all, England proud! Also, in the course of the battle, it seems that the English army have broken through the wall of the city and that if they do not carry on the break through will not matter and ‘the hole will be closed up with their English dead’. This line is also the only partly violent comment in the poem.  After the first few lines, the poem becomes even more patriotic and more of a war cry. He tells his troops to be calm during peace but be like the tiger during war! He says they have to disguise themselves with rage. He then moves on to families, by saying that their fathers have proven themselves so you have to do it now and make yourselves worthy sons. He also says that as they are English they are better than anyone else and that they should fight for England! The rest of the poem is basically about the soldiers having to prove themselves as good Englishmen.

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The final line outlines that the poem is about patriotism and is not in the slightest depressing, “Cry ‘God for Harry! England and Saint George!’” After this they carry on fighting and win the battle. The poem does not give a violent or depressing view of war but you can see certain points that may show the soldiers were scared. This is not violent or depressing but shows an underlying feeling of fear, which the king probably holds too. I think that on the whole this is not a depressing view of war as there is no mention ...

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