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The Reality Of War In Various Poetry

1828 words - 7 pages

The Reality of War in Various Poetry
Works Cited Missing
The First World War was unlike any previous was Britain had ever
fought. The horror of both the physical conditions and the reality of
battle moved soldier and officer alike to express their reactions in
verse. The soldiers' shock at the contrast between their experiences
and their previous conceptions of war as described by the propaganda
at home made many soldiers angry and bitter, which is reflected in all
of these poems. The poets intended to shock the complacent and naïve
British public into an awareness of the brutal horrors faced by the
soldiers at the front. The audience's lack of understanding was due to
the propaganda, which had fostered the belief, during previous years
of small colonial wars, that Britain was an indomitable world power.
The country had been brought up to believe 'the Old Lie: Dulce et
decorum est. / Pro patria mori.' It is sweet and honourable to die for
your country. Sassoon, Owen and Rosenberg attempted to dispel this
romanticised illusion of war and to present the British people with
the true horror of what the soldiers in the front line faced.

All eight of the poems describe the horror of both the trenches and
the battlefields although they all emphasise different aspects of the
conditions faced by the soldiers. Owen's 'Exposure' and Sassoon's 'The
Dug- Out' emphasise the cold and boredom of the soldiers. Owen
recounts "the merciless iced winds that knive …" the soldiers in the
front line trenches as described in 'Exposure'. The weather is
portrayed as almost a fearsome an enemy as the Germans, as the dawn is
seen "massing in the east her melancholy army." 'Exposure' in
particular really communicates to the reader the extreme weather
conditions the troops were forced to endure, which creates, for the
men and the reader, "The poignant misery…" described in the poem. All
of the poets express their horror at the conditions of battle through
quite grotesque and gruesome descriptions such as Owen's account in
'Dulce et decorum est' of watching a man dying in a gas attack, seeing
"… the white eyes writhing in his face…". By moving from the visual
image, which is limited, just as his view was limited through the gas
mask, he moves to what he could hear,"…at every jolt, the blood/ Come
gargling from his froth corrupted lungs". The soldiers agonising
destruction is largely inside him and therefore unseen, hence Owen's
judgement that this kind of death is as "Obscene as cancer, and bitter
as the cud".

All the soldiers were horrified at the sights they witnessed. The
soldier in the poem dies due to his ill -fitting gas helmet. Not only
did they have to endure the appalling conditions of the...

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