Though the ages there have been many wars but not until the last few centuries that poetry about events someone has witnessed at war has been written. Wars are seen in different ways by people. Here are some thoughts on the subject of war as written in war poems. After the French revolution Napoleon lead his country in battle against several European powers this was one of the first occasions, when journalists were able to write articles in newspapers to encourage people At home to be very patriotic and believe that war was a very glorious thing.
However even then some people were very opposed to violence like John Scott who wrote ‘The Drum’ in 1782. The beat of the drum was used for hundreds of years by army recruiting officers Going around towns and cities trying to get young men to join the army and go off and fight in wars Scott calls these young men ‘thoughtless youth’ because they only see pleasure of war. In young men’s minds whether they come from the city or the countryside they see the attractive uniforms, The shiny weapons and people seeing them as heroes and this is why they are willing to sell their liberty.
However what the poet sees is that when the generals give the orders men will ‘march’ ‘fight’ and die ‘In foreign lands’. He repeats two lines from the start of the poem to show that every time he Sound of the drum it makes him think of the horror of war and all the pain and death surrounding it. Countries go to war because of the ‘Ambition’ to gain land and control other people, but the poet believes that all war means to ordinary human beings is ‘misery’.
He sees ‘ravaged plains’, ‘burning towns’, ‘mangled limbs’, ‘Ruined swains’, ‘widows tears and ‘orphans moans’. Another author is Wilfred Owen who fought in World War one, and wrote the poem ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ Written somewhere around 1917. Owen had a friend who also was a war poet, he was originally from Liverpool But moved to France to teach English, and he became an officer after war broke out and served in France. He was killed on the Battlefield just a few days before the Armistice.
This poem was set in the First World War when a group of solders are returning to their base camp after being in the trenches at the front line. The men are totally exhausted, ‘bent double like old beggars’, ‘and coughing like hags’ As they walked through the thick mud. These lines show the terrible state the solders were in, some were almost sleep walking, some had even lost their Boots in the trenches, and ‘limped on’. They were so tired they could hardly see they were drunk with fatigue.
As the men are walking back there’s a gas attack most of the soldiers were able to put on ‘the clumsy helmets’ but one man wasn’t quick enough. The other soldiers watched him through their gas masks as he stumbled about and saw him ‘Drowning’ as He choked. Owen can’t forget what he has seen, as he was ‘helpless’ and unable to assist the man. Owen describes how he watched the man die and saw the terror in his eyes as they ‘flung’ him into a wagon this awful sight keeps coming back to Owen so that he can’t forget it.
Owen gives a very good description of the suffering of the dying man, the man suffered agony at every jolt of the Wagon and the others could hear his dying breathes ‘come gargling from the froth corrupted lungs’ here Owen refers to innocent tongues; nobody told these soldiers when they joined up that they could face such a horrible death. This refers to the fact that the poet feels that ordinary people think that it is a glorious thing to die for your country at war.
The Latin ‘Ducle et decorum est pro patria mori’ means it is sweet and fitting to die for your country. But Owen calls this a lie. He feels anyone who has been on the battlefields and seen the awful sights that he has described in this poem would not tell stories To children that war is good. Both of these poets didn’t see reason for war and saw war as something of horror and death. Scott thought that war was something that shouldn’t happen were as Owen just appears to think that war is horrific and should not be encouraged.