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The Tradition Of War Poetry Essay

3576 words - 14 pages

The Tradition Of War Poetry

By comparing and contrasting a selection of war poems consider the
ways in which attitudes to war have been explored and expressed. When
considering poetry written post 1900 concentrate on a selection of
poems written by Wilfred Owen.

Humans have turned to poetry in many different instances as a way of
expressing them selves, using the best combination of words, in the
best order to express exactly how they are feeling at that moment.
Poetry is one of the most powerful means of communication that uses
words very sparingly, and often defines the era in which the poet
lived and died. I think that is why many poems are written about war,
as anyone who was involved in that experience would obviously have
strong views and opinions about their encounters, which they would
wish to express.

This essay will explore the tradition of war poetry. I will be doing
this by looking at a variety of poems from different wars and then
exploring the ways in which attitudes have been explored and
expressed.

An early expression of war poetry is to be found in an extract from
the play Henry V by William Shakespeare, before the final attack on
Harfleur. The situation in the poem is that Henry V is trying to rouse
his troops before battle by making war sound exciting and noble. I
think the purpose of the poem was to inspire his troops and to give
them courage when fighting; he does this by using a various number of
techniques. He creates very powerful images in his speech such as by
alliterating war in the line, "when the blast of war blows in our
ears." This rouses the troops psychologically for war but also creates
an influential image in our minds of what the experience was like for
those men and what emotions they may be feeling before a battle. He
also uses strong metaphors to describe how the men should fight in the
battle, such as "imitate the action of the tiger." This line prepares
the troops psychology as well as physically by saying that they should
be strong, courageous and fierce like the animal. The poem is also
very patriotic, and talks of how the men should not disgrace their
mothers or ancestors. Like the poem 'The Soldier' by Rupert Brooke, it
presents the idea that dying for your country would be a good, brave
thing to do and is in a way a sense of duty towards their mother
England.

This poem is not wholly positive or negative. It gives war a good
image by making it sound courageous and noble but it also expresses
some horrific images such as, "Or close the wall with our English
dead." I think that the last line of the poem, "Cry, God for Harry,
England and Saint George." sums up the overall message of the poem by
ending in a strong religious line, using a group of 3 to make the
speech effective, and emphasising the fact that their cause is...

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