How does the poetry of the First World War reflect

World War One was a war fought between two allied forces, the Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance between 1914 and 1918. The Triple Entente was made up of three countries; Britain, France and Russia. The three countries that they were in combat with were; Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. The actual fighting started in early August of 1914 after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austria-Hungarian throne. He was assassinated as he made an official visit to newly taken land by Austria-Hungary, what used to be Bosnia.

He was shot by Gavrilo Princip, a member of a Russian funded Serbian extremist group that was against the possibility of Serbia being invaded just like Bosnia had recently been. This angered the Austria-Hungary hierarchy, and declared war on Serbia, as a precaution Russia got ready for war in support of Serbia. Germany, as an ally of Austria-Hungary, declared war on Russia on August 1st and by the 3rd had also declared war on France. The Germans were aiming to invade France quickly, and to do this they wanted to avoid the French troops and cut through Belgium.

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On the 4th of August German troops went over the Belgian border and as Britain had an agreement with Belgium stating anyone who entered Belgian territory should expect a declaration of war from Britain. So Britain declared war on Germany later that day. As a final response to Franz Ferdinand’s assassination Austria-Hungary declared war on Russia on the 5th August. So within a week a massive world war had broken out due to one man’s death. The British public were pretty enthusiastic at the idea of the whole thing and were very excited about the prospect of fighting for their country.

Many young men saw it as an adventure, an experience that would only come up once in their lifetime. Many men were very keen to sign up as they did not want to miss out on fighting, as the war was only expected to last till Christmas. These feelings soon changed as the war progressed and the stories and poems of so many young men dying reached home. The enthusiasm of joining the war before it ended at Christmas soon faded, as did the country’s enthusiasm. This was replaced with fear, depression and anger.

These changes of feelings can clearly be seen in the poetry of the time as many poems like ‘Who’s for the Game? and ‘Peace’ were replaced with poems such as ‘Disabled’ and ‘Suicide in the Trenches’. Many of the poems at the beginning of the war were jolly, up-beat and really enthusiastic about the war. But as the country’s feelings and thoughts changed so did the moods of the poems. They became more depressed, dark tales, telling stories of illness and slaughter. How does the poetry of the First World War reflect The changing mood as the war progressed? Jessie Pope’s ‘Who’s for the Game? ‘ is a prime example of the country’s excitement for the war.

It was a poem written for a national newspaper to encourage young men to join the war effort and uses an ABAB rhyming scheme. The government’s propaganda in this poem is easy to spot and this is just one of the prime examples. “Who would much rather come back with a crutch than lie low and be out of the fun? ” This is quite a deceptive piece of writing by Pope as she makes out that the worst possible injury that you could come back from war with is with a crutch. She doesn’t mention death anywhere or even the possibility of death.

This quote makes the reader question his nerve and questions if he would be willing to fight for his country. This is a constant writing style of Pope’s throughout the poem, where she uses many rhetorical questions. Rhetorical questions are a very powerful persuasive ploy as, in this case, all the answers to these questions are ‘me’. If the reader didn’t get the answer ‘me’ then his loyalty to his country would constantly be a niggling thought in the back of his mind. This is a clever ploy used in propaganda because whenever this person has time to think to himself, that is the thought he would be thinking of.

Jessie Pope targets her audience very cleverly and tries to reach out to the everyday man. She chose this slant for her poem as these are the sort of men that would have fought in World War One. She uses slang words, such as; “up to her neck”, “lads” and “grip and tackle” to talk to the working class on a personal level, and so, decided to write the poem in second person. As this was a poem written for the government propaganda effort it makes war sound harmless and compares it to no more than a simple game of rugby or football. This is an extended metaphor, and this is a theme that is used throughout the poem.

This poem ends with “Your country is up to her neck in a fight, and she’s looking and calling for you. ” This is another case of Pope talking straight to the reader and again makes them feel like they’re special. She makes it seem like the country is waiting for ‘you’ and cannot start the so-called game without you. She again reaches out to the young men of Britain by calling the war, “she”. Many men don’t and wouldn’t of associated females with death, so it relaxes the outlook of war. Rupert Brooke’s poem ‘Peace’ was written only a few months into the war and the country is said to be still buzzing from the start of the war.

But you cannot really tell what the conditions are truly like in the battlefield, and neither could Brooke. This was due to the fact that Brooke never actually saw active service as he died of blood poisoning on his way to Gallipoli. The poem is written in a varied rhyming scheme. One thing that this poem does tell us that ‘Who’s for the game? ‘ doesn’t is some of the reasons for the great response to the war. “God be thanked who has matched us with his hour, and caught our youth, and wakened us from sleeping. ” How does the poetry of the First World War reflect The changing mood as the war progressed?

This is telling us about the boring Edwardian period that the country has just come out of. Many men began to grow restless during this time and began to get bored with day-to-day life with nothing out-of-the ordinary happening. This is why so many people regarded the prospect of war as an adventure. In Brooke’s sonnet he uses the metaphors of ‘swimmers’ and ‘sleepers’. He regards the men who have signed up as swimmers as they have left the sick hearts that honour could not move. This ‘sick hearts’ are the sleepers as they are happy to stay in the dreary, boring Edwardian age.

He uses the word ‘swimmers’ because the war is like a swimmer jumping into a swimming pool something different from where they have just left and gives them life. He uses the word ‘sleepers’ to describe the men who didn’t sign up because they are happy to keep on living that same old, boring life. He is saying that not even war will awaken them. Another innuendo that Brooke has used in his poem is the actual title itself, ‘Peace’. It has been used as an ironic gesture as he does not literally mean peace, because they are at war.

In fact he is talking about if someone was to die in battle then they would be at inner peace with themselves as they know they have died for their country. Another meaning for the peace, in the context that the poet has used it in is if someone dies they “rest in peace”. But if they were to have stayed in Britain and not have fought in the war then they would have stayed restless due to the dark and dreary Edwardian period. Not at any point in this poem does Brooke actually acknowledge the fact that these young men could die during the war. Instead he calls the prospect of death as “release”.

In fact in the last line of the poem Brooke actually says, “the worst friend and enemy is but Death”. He is again referring to the dreary Edwardian period, and is saying that death is a good thing and should be seen as some sort of a friend. This is a complete contrast from Pope’s “Who’s for the Game? ” where she says the worst you can come home with is a crutch. By 1915 however, the realities of war were starting to reach the shores of Britain and the mood was beginning to turn. The nation’s feelings were now beginning to turn to anger. In the poem ‘Disabled’ by Wilfred Owen the true effects of war are shown in their entirety.

How much damage it can cause and how it can destroy a young man’s dreams for life. It tells the story of a young Scottish boy who signed up with a few of his friends from his local football team one night when they were drunk. Even though they were below the minimum age requirement for national service, the army waved a blind eye to it because they were so desperate. “He didn’t have to beg; smiling they wrote his lie”. He ended up a few months later in a wheelchair in the Craiglockhart Hospital with no arms or legs. “He sat in a wheeled How does the poetry of the First World War reflect

The changing mood as the war progressed? Chair, waiting for dark, and shivered in his ghastly suit of grey. ” This can be interpreted in a few ways, it could be seen as the boy’s lifeless body. Another way that you could look at it is the bed clothes that patients are given when in hospital, grey boring, drab clothes. This young boy who was once a very active person, who played many sports can not do anything at all without assistance. Nothing. He is simply waiting for dark, whether this means nightfall or death is unclear but either way it shows he has nothing to live for.

The poem does not have a clear rhyming scheme as all the stanzas have a different number of lines. “Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer Goal. Only a solemn man who brought him fruits thanked him. ” This quote really shows the reader that when coming back from a war not everyone is treated like heroes as it is thought. Owen is trying to show this to the public back in England that war is not all about glory and it is only the survivors who are cheered home, who are remembered, and are able to return to their day-to-day lives.

Many of the fallen are forgotten, and many wounded men are looked at with almost disgust. The government did nothing for men like the one in the poem, instead chose to focus on the perfectly able for their propaganda campaigns. Many millions of men who suffered shellshock, amputation, or paralysis were never mentioned again. This young man in ‘Disabled’ was just one of the men who was taken in by the propaganda campaign of the British government.

He was talked to be ‘up for the fight’ by poems such as Jessie Pope’s “Who’s for the game? But as shown with hindsight, war can bring injuries far worse than ones that need a crutch. Whereas Pope’s poem has tricked men like the one in ‘Disabled’, Rupert Brooke’s poem ‘Peace’ has some similarities with it. As Brooke says death is a friend, not an enemy, and that is the sort of friend the man in ‘Disabled’ needs. The last of the poems that I will be looking at is ‘Suicide in the Trenches’ by Siegfried Sassoon. This was written later on then the other poems that I have looked at and as a result is probably the most against the war.

Sassoon was a very experienced soldier who won the Military Cross for courage. This says quite a lot about the ordinary soldier’s feelings to war. If a very experienced soldier who has fought in more battles than any of the other authors is the most against the war, it must have been really bad. He protested against the war in two different ways; his poetry and a letter against the war, that was published in The Times. “I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.

This is just a short snippet from the letter and already it is clear of his strong feelings towards the war. How does the poetry of the First World War reflect The changing mood as the war progressed? ‘Suicide in the Trenches’ is a short but very effective poem. It has an AABB rhyming scheme throughout. Sassoon has used this basic rhyming scheme as it produces a very easy platform for a poem that is very hard-hitting. Although the poem is a very depressing poem, you would not say it was from the opening stanza. It tells the story of a “simple soldier boy who grinned at life in empty joy”.

It uses words that are associated with happiness and good things in life, but this all changes at the beginning of stanza 2. The soldier is now in the front line in winter and his joy and happiness has all gone, “with crumps and lice and lack of rum”. He couldn’t stand the fighting anymore and put a bullet through his brain. Now none of the soldiers mention him anymore. This is due to the fact that the government do not want the public to know about depressed soldiers, so depressed in fact that he would kill himself. In the last stanza Sassoon launches a viscious attack on the ‘smug-faced crowds’.

He states how they cheer the living home and act as if they were part of the war effort. But in fact they were to cowardly to join up and left these men to fight for their right to live as free men. They “sneak home and pray that they will never know the hell where youth and laughter go. ” This is an extremely powerful point from Sassoon as he is really emphasising the cowardice of every man who didn’t sign up for the original war effort. In conclusion, I would say there is very clear and defining change in mood and thoughts of the war across the nation as the war progressed.

As the letters and poems began to reach their families, the true horrific scenes of war were described and shown to those at home. Even though propaganda was still working and men were still signing up, the numbers of men joining the army was dropping. Looking back at the war now I would say that it isn’t a surprise that the mood changed so much during the war as many young men were being needlessly sent out to battles to get slaughtered by their superiors who were in luxury houses miles away from the real fighting. They were just using these innocent, young men as pawns for their big chess game against the Germans.