Wilfred Owen and Jesse Pope (Dulce Et Decorum Est VS Who's For the Game?)

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World War I Poetry Analysis

World War I, also known as the War to End All Wars, was a worldwide conflict which occurred between 1914 to 1918. A majority of the fighting took place in Europe between the Entente Powers (comprised of France, Russia, and the United Kingdom) and the Central Powers (comprised of Austria-Hungary, Germany, and the Ottoman Empires). The occurrence of the war was very momentous and left a permanent scar in the lives of many, most notably the brave soldiers that fought in the war. The conflict was seen as a tragic event in the eyes of many. On the other hand, it could be seen as a platform for the birth of a new form of literature: war poetry. When the news of the war struck countries such as France and the United Kingdom, numerous advertisements were published in newspapers in an attempt to recruit soldiers in the army. One of the most persuasive methods used were poems which were guaranteed to embellish the rewards of a soldier. As intriguing as they seemed, the poems were just another sly ruse to lure young, innocent men into joining the army. An example of such a poem is Who's For the Game? by Jessie Pope. Pope was an English poet and journalist who was renowned for her inspiring yet deceitful poems which were published during World War I. Some saw her poem as a bundle of optimism and believed that they should join the army because, after all, war was just a game. However, there were a handful of people who begged to differ. Wilfred Owen was one of them. Owen was a poet and a soldier who fought in the First World War. He is considered as an exceptional monument in the history of war poetry due to his ability to lay out the realities of war through his poems. One of his most famous poems is Dulce Et Decorum Est which was initially addressed to Pope and her poem Who's For the Game?. Owen was a soldier who had faced the tragedies of war, while Pope was a mere hypocrite who remained in England and wrote about something she had no experience of. It can be seen through both poems that Owen and Pope shared contradicting views on the realities of war.

The poem, Who's For The Game? is an extended metaphor which compares war with a game or a match. The title itself is informal and denotes fun with a slightly dangerous tone. The first stanza is like an invitation to people to join the game. Throughout the poem, the word "game" refers to the war that is occurring. It is also evident that although the game is very important, it is not very serious. In the second line, a passion for blood is brought up through the use of the word "red". Additionally, it is indicated that the fight is physical but is straight-forward and exciting. The poet also uses sporting terms such as "grip" and "tackle" which make the war seem as simple as a game of rugby. The word "unafraid" is used to express the fact that one should not be a coward. Other persuasive statements include "sit tight", which indirectly means that if a person decides not to fight, they will be missing out on all of the 'fun'.

The poet ensures that the theme of sports is present throughout the piece by using terms such as "toe the line", which is when sportsmen line up at the start of a race. At times, an informal phrase may be used to emphasize the simplicity of war. For example, the phrase, "country a hand" demonstrates this. The idea of fame is continually brought up and is used as a technique to convince the readers to join the army. An example is the quotation, "turn to himself in the show" which elaborates on the idea that everyone wants a significant role which will be acknowledged. Furthermore, the poet makes this idea sound even more impressive by contradicting it with the statement, "seat in the stand". This refers to those who will not participate in war and forms the concept of cowardice.

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A similar approach is used in the first line of the third stanza. The term "picnic" implies fun but this aspect is contradicted through the use of the words "not much". In the next line, a positive mood is established as the word, "eagerly" exhibits enthusiasm. The phrase "shoulders a gun" creates the perception that war is as uncomplicated as picking up a gun and fighting. The last two lines of the third stanza indirectly state that it is better to come back with an injured leg rather than to hide and not fight. This, yet again, is used ...

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