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Explorations Of Themes In War Poetry

3964 words - 16 pages

Explorations of Themes in War Poetry

Before World War One, war was seen as glorious and honourable. These
attitudes are reflected in the phrase Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria
Mari, translated this means that it is sweet and fitting to die for
your country. It was a firm belief that everyman should fight for his
country. However, World War One changed this attitude that people had,
as they had seen the effects of war on people.

Warfare before World War One was believed to be men on horses battling
or men on foot with swords and shields facing the same weapons as
their own from the opposition. Over the years, technology has
progressed and developed. New weapons were introduced and implemented
during warfare, tanks and helicopters were brought in and this
modified the whole perception of warfare and altered the idea of war
to the reality of war and how it was during a battle and on the

In this essay, I shall be looking at the Patriotism of war, the Irony
in war and the horrors of war. I will use my social, cultural and
historical knowledge and by using particular poems, I will support my
idea of the attitudes changed after World War One. For this essay I
will be looking at six different poems, two for each theme I am
looking at. For the Patriotism of war, I will be using 'The Call' by
Jessie Pope and 'To An Athlete Dying Young' by A.E. Houseman. For the
Irony in war, I will be using 'The General' by Seigfried Sassoon and
'The Charge of the Light Brigade' by Alfred Lord Tennyson. For the
horrors of war, I will be using 'Dulce Et Decorum Est' by Wilfred Owen
and 'Mental Cases' by Wilfred Owen.

Jessie Pope is an excellent example of pre-war poetry because she
writes with very strong patriotism. She encourages people to go out
and fight for their country, for glory and honour, for the king and
for the people of England! Her poetry blinded the men from the horrors
of the war, and gave them visions of, "banners and rolling drums". The
brave young men left England swelling with pride, sure of victory,
eating the "empires thanks", no idea that they would be crawling back,
distraught, mad and in most cases, not at all.

The poem follows the same rhyme scheme in each of the three stanzas.
A,B,A,B, then three lines of C and back to B. Line A is always
encouraging the reader, telling them of the glory and how wonderful it
is to fight, always asking who, "who's for the trench?" in this way
she is addressing the reader with a rhetorical question. Line B is a
question, "would you my laddie?", or a slight variation, again
addressing the reader, almost daring them to refuse or take on a
challenge. The lines of C put the reader to what they are fighting for
and, dare them to be cowards.

After the war, Pope was contrasted as an unreliable source next to a
first hand...

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