War Poetry

Poetry is one of the most important ways of communication and expression of feelings.

War poetry brings history to life it also shows us the thoughts of men and women who have experienced war. The young people today are impressed by the work of soldier poets of 1914-18. They think this is the most impressive part of the huge literature war. Before the end of the nineteenth century there were no soldier poets. The war poets were mostly civilians who used their imagination to say what battle was like. The use of powerful words meant there was a hidden meaning behind it.

The writer uses metaphors and similes to express the anguish, fear, love etc in his poems. Everyone’s opinion of war changed towards the end of the 1st world war. People thought that sacrificing oneself for their country was seen as being noble and honourable. This put great pressure on the young men to go join the army and to risk their lives. Such poems like this were ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ by Alfred Tennyson and ‘Peace’ by Rupert Brooke. Jessie Pope’s ‘Who’s for the Game’ is a very particularly good example of a poem based on the traditions to encourage men to enlist.

The poets before the 1st world war were usually civilians who wrote their poems from newspaper reports or other soldiers’ accounts. Some people were taken to war and were paid to write poetry. The poems could have been exaggerated if they were written from the newspaper. The early war poetry was written about heroes and glory. The poems weren’t written on the emotions and feelings of the soldiers but they were written to tell the story of the war. Most of the poems are not descriptive because they are trying to build up the respectability of the important people.Poets like Jessie Pope portrayed war as being glorious and honourable, writing poems, which encouraged people to join the army, and as a result Jessie Pope was much disliked by Wilfred Owen and Seigfried Sassoon. ‘Peace’ by Rupert Brooke is a poem showing the patriotism of war.

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It talks about his generation being lucky and being able to fight in war, ” And caught our youth, and wakened us from sleeping. ” This poem has rhyme to it but the poem does not emphasize what the war was really like. This poem only tells us how heroic and glorious it was to fight in war.The charge of the Light Brigade’ is written by Alfred Tennyson. This poem has a definite rhythm to it and tries to imitate footballers going onto a football pitch. In this poem there are six verses. The first verse is about how six hundred soldiers rode into battle and how they thought there was nothing else to do but die, ” Their’s but to do and die”. This shows how people thought that it was honourable to die for one’s country.

The next two verses describe what it was like, with cannons being shot out from all directions. Phrases like ‘ Volleyed and thundered’ and ‘ shattered and sundered’ have been used to describe this.The last two verses describe how the soldiers die,’ While horse and hero fell’ but Alfred uses the quote ‘ They that fought so well’ to show how brave the soldier was. The last verse talks about how honourable the soldiers were and about what a charge they had made. This poem is all about how brave and honourable the soldiers were and how they died for their country.

Tennyson shows his admiration and pity for the soldiers in the last verse as he talks about how brave the soldiers were, ‘ O the wild charge they made’. Wilfred Owen, the son of a railway worker, was born in Plas Wilmot, near Oswestry, on 18th March 1893.He was a famous poet who wrote poems during the First World War and he was the first poet who tried to change the view people had of war. Some of the poems he wrote were, ‘Spring Offensive’, ‘ Exposure’ and ‘ Dulce et Decorum Est’. Siegfred Sassoon was another poet who like Owen started to write the truth about what war was really like. Some of his poems were, ‘The Hero’, ‘ Suicide in the Trenches’ and ‘ Does it matter? ‘ ‘ Spring Offensive’ was written by Owen. The title shows us that the poem is going to be about new life, death, the energy of spring and the destruction of battle.

The poem itself describes a lot of things. It describes the feelings and emotions of a soldier in the war, who is trying to attack by going over the top of the hill. This poem tells us how there is a new hope of life, which is given by spring, and on the other side there is death and destruction given by the war.

The poem shows a lot about the soldiers as they are sitting peacefully one minute and then the next minute they are fighting for their lives. The language of the poem makes us feel a sudden charge as the soldiers go towards the enemy, knowing what might happen but still moving without any hesitation.In the first three verses of this poem the soldiers are sitting on the grass and relaxing together. They are talking in the sun and the springtime. It is May so it would be sunny, the perfect spring day.

The soldiers know that they are going to go to war but still they are enjoying this beautiful day, as it may be their last. ” By the May breeze, murmurous with wasp and midge; And though the summer oozed into their veins. ” This describes the summer and shows that it was a calm and peaceful day. Owen has used soft sounding words. He has used an onomatopoeia here aswell.In the third verse nature is trying to prevent the soldiers from going into war.

The next three verses describe the actual battle itself. It shows the emotions and feelings of the soldiers as they say goodbye to their friends, as they might not see them again. Owen describes the battle as a scene from hell. Owen does not use a lot sounds but instead he concentrates on the soldiers movements and colours. The reader can imagine what the battle was like as the pace changes in the poem in the middle of the fourth verse. The mood of the poem changes slightly.As the men rise to go over the top of the hill, expecting what is going to happen to them, the poem becomes more violent.

” And instantly the whole sky burned” Owen is comparing the battle with hell and uses words associated with hell. Owen also uses simile and an example of this is ‘ they breathed like trees unstirred’. The rhythm of this poem is low at first but this changes as the battle starts, the rhythm becomes much faster with the mood becoming more violent. The poem ends with the last verse becoming calm again. There is not much sound in this poem apart from at the beginning and at the end even though there is imagery and feelings.I think that Owen uses words like “fire” and “hell” very well and the poem puts an image in your head of what war was really like and the horror of it all. ‘ Exposure’ was written in January 1916-17 describing the bitter winter. This poem is set at the Battle of Somme.

It is trying to describe what war was like in the winter. The poem shows that the soldiers are trying to fight the cold winter as well as the enemies. In this poem Owen describes all aspects of a soldiers life and not just in battle. The first verse is describing the weather and the cold atmosphere.Our brains ache, in the merciless iced east winds that knives us. . . ” In the second verse it shows how the soldiers question each other asking why they are in such a horrible place, and what they are doing there.

” What are we doing here? ” In the third verse Owen describes how the soldiers are fighting this cold weather instead of the enemy. ” Attacks once more in ranks on shivering ranks of grey, But nothing happens. ” In the fourth verse Owen describes the weather being worse than the actual battle itself. ” Sudden successive flights of bullets streak and silenceLess deathly than the air that shudders black with snow. ” Owen is saying that the bullets are less deathly than the weather. In verse five Owen describes the snow as getting closer to the soldiers. Knowing this it scares soldiers as they think they are dying. In the beginning of this verse the flake in the first line represent the death reaching out for the soldiers.

In the sixth verse Owen talks about the doors of life closing for the soldiers. ” Shutters and doors, all closed: on us the doors are closed, We turn back to our dying. ” The last verse describes how the soldiers were affected by the cold in this battle. The burying-party, pricks and shovels in shaking grass, Pause over half-known faces.

All their eyes are ice, But nothing happens. ” ‘ Dulce et Decorum Est’ is the most famous war poem ever written. Both Owen and Sassoon wrote this. ‘ Dulce et Derorum Est’ was a well known phrase and it meant ‘ It is sweet and one’s duty to die for one’s country. ‘ This title implies to me that it was a great and honourable thing to fight in great battles for your nation even if this meant dying in the battle. It also is telling me how lucky and brave the soldiers were to die for their country.This poem is about a soldiers experience in a battle during World War One.

It is about a soldier who is on his way back after fighting to have a rest when the enemy drops a gas bomb. The poem is mostly about the feelings of the soldier as he watches his friend die because of the gas. It also describes the hatred Owen has for Jesse Pope and other people like her because it was people like them who encouraged other people and children to go into war in the first place. The first verse tells us the feelings of the soldier’s after they have fought in the battle.

This verse shows the soldiers being really tired.The soldiers are described as ‘old beggars’ in this verse this is because the poet is trying to show us the state of the soldiers and how filthy and dirty the soldiers were. Owen uses similes in this verse to tell us how horrid war really was. The second verse is about the gas bomb and how the soldiers react to the poisonous gas fumes. It is also about how the soldiers react as they watch their friends die because of this gas attack.

Owen uses words like ‘ stumbling’ and ‘ floundering’ to give us a picture of what it looked like. In this verse Owen uses many words to describe how the gas was like. Like a man in fire or lime’ this is a simile and describes the colour of the gas.

He also uses many words to describe the man dying because of the gas. He has used very descriptive words like ‘ Plunges at me’ to show that the man is begging for help.The third verse is about having to watch the soldier die.

This verse is slow and keeps repeats that the soldier is dying. This verse is very short only two lines long. The word ‘drowning’ is repeated because Owen has described the gas as being like the sea. In the last verse Owen starts talking about peace. My friend’ these words are aimed at Jessie Pope because she is telling children to go and fight for their country even though she has seen so many deaths.

In this poem different lengths of sentences have been used. Some are long for example the sentences in verse three are slightly longer than others. This poem tells the truth about the war and the horrors of it. Siegfried Sassoon was a courageous officer, who fought in many battles.Sassoon came from a wealthy family. Sassoon wrote his poems writing the truth about war. He wanted to upset ” blood thirsty civilians and those who falsely glorified the war. Sassoon would write his poems from his memories from France and hints from newspapers.

Sassoon used plain, direct style, he often brought in Soldiers’ slang. ‘ The Hero’ is one of Sassoon’s poems. Sassoon offers us a bitter contrast between a mother’s view of her dead son and the opinions of his fellow officers. A ‘ brother officer’ has gone to her home to tell her how her son died.

This poem only has three verses. In the first verse it tells us what the mother thought of her dead son and how proud she was of him. This shows us what people thought about dying for ones country.The second verse describes how the brother officer tells the mother that she would be very proud of her dead son and that he had told her some ‘ gallant lies’. Sassoon describes how the mother’s eyes were shining with ‘ gentle triumph’ and were ‘ brimmed with joy’ to show how proud the mother was of her son. In the last verse Sassoon describes how the soldier had died by being ‘ blown to small bits’ and how he had panicked in the trenches. In this poem Sassoon shows us that fighting in the war was dreadful and no one would really care about what would happen to you.Sassoon tries to show us that the soldier did not care about him dying and that he lied to his mother to make her feel proud of her son.

In this poem Sassoon has used a rhyme scheme like ‘ swine and mine’ and ‘ tried and died’. ‘ Suicide In the Trenches’ is another poem written by Sassoon. He wrote this poem to show his increased bitterness towards war. Sassoon wrote poems the way he did because he fought in many battles himself even though he hated slaughter and killing. This poem is about a young soldier who enjoyed his life and had no worries. This poem has three verses.The first verse is telling us about the boy before he had joined the army. In the second verse Sassoon has described how the trenches were like and that the boy had committed suicide because of the trenches.

Sassoon aimed the third verse at those people who stay at home cheering on the soldiers as they go into battle but then forget all about them. The mood of this poem is very cheerful in the beginning but then changes and becomes very sad. This poem has a definite rhythm to it like ‘ boy and joy’, ‘dark and lark’, ‘ glum and rum’, brain and again’, ‘ eye and by’, ‘ know and go’.Sassoon uses a mixture of feelings in this poem and makes it a simple poem.

Sassoon uses the word ‘ you’ mostly to show his sarcasm. This makes the poem very effective. Sassoon describes the horror of war and the trenches and shows his bitterness towards war and to those people who cheer on the soldiers to go into war in the first place. ‘ Does it Matter’ is another one of Sassoon’s poems. Sassoon is trying to tell us what the terrible injuries could be by going into war and is telling us the effects of these injuries as well.This poem has three verses. The first verse is telling us about what it would be like to lose your legs by going into war.

Sassoon is telling us what the person would feel like after losing their legs and how other people would react to this. The second verse is showing us what it would be like to lose your sight and become blind forever. Sassoon always says that ‘ people will always be kind’ telling us that the people would care now that you are injured but if you weren’t injured they would not care as much as they do now.He tries to tell us that all you would have left would be memories if you were blind.

The last verse is about the dreams the soldiers had from the pit. Sassoon is telling us that ‘ you can drink and forget and be glad’. He means that if you came back from war it would be very difficult to forget the pain you have been through and what you have seen in war. Sassoon shows in this poem that if you went into war you there would be a less chance that you would come back alive, or you would come back badly injured and your whole life would be ruined because of these injuries.Sassoon has used some rhyming words such as ‘ kind’ and ‘ mind’ or ‘ blind’ and ‘ kind’.

The beginnings of every verse start of with the same line ‘ Does it matter? ‘ this makes the poem very effective. From this essay I have realized that it was people like Sassoon and Owen who tried to teach the public the truth about war, which started to make people realize that war was evil. I have also realized that before the 1914 were all about the honour and glory of war. People thought that war was all about having to fight for one’s country.


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