Wwi Sources Essay

1826 words - 7 pages

As students of history in the 21st century, we have many comprehensive resources pertaining to the First World War that are readily available for study purposes. The origin of these primary, secondary and fictional sources affect the credibility, perspective and factual information resulting in varying strengths and weaknesses of these sources. These sources include propaganda, photographs, newspapers, journals, books, magazine articles and letters. These compilations allow individuals to better understand the facts, feeling and context of the home front and battlefield of World War One.
Autobiographies, diaries, letters, official records, photographs and poems are examples of primary sources from World War One. The two primary sources analyzed in this essay are the poems, “Anthem for Doomed Youth” by Wilfred Owen and “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae. Primary sources are often personal, written from the limited perspective of a single individual. It is very difficult for the author to capture their own personal experience, while incorporating the involvement and effects of other events happening at the same time. Each piece of writing studied describes the author’s perception of the war. Both of the poems intend to show to grave reality of war, which often was not realized until the soldiers reach the frontlines. The poems were both written at battle within two years of each other. However, the stark difference between the two poems is astonishing. “Anthem for Doomed Youth” gives a much different impression than “In Flanders Field” despite the fact that both authors were in the same war and similar circumstances. The first two lines in “In Flanders Fields” “…the poppies blow, 
Between the crosses, row on row.” are an image of the rows of crosses that mark the graves of the fallen soldiers. In “Anthem For Doomed Youth,” it seems that there were no such graves or times of mourning for the fallen soldiers on the battlefield. Wilfred Owen asks where are the “…passing-bells for these who die as cattle?”
The author of “Anthem for Doomed Youth” leads his reader through his personal struggle and frustration of war. Owen has an abrasive approach when describing the death all around him and clearly expresses his anger with the “hasty orisons” for the dead. He speaks directly of battlefront in the first octet and then includes the home front in the second half of his sonnet. Owen’s purpose is not a commemoration of fallen soldiers. Rather, he divulges the disgust and disappointment of war. Like McCrae, Wilfred Owen paints a picture of the multitude of deaths. Back at the home front, “…each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.” We can construe that the author is not simply talking about preparing for bed in the evening, but rather lowering the blinds in a room where yet another dead soldier lies, as an indication to the community and out of respect for the soldier. There is a lack of “passing-bells for these who die as cattle….no prayers nor bells;...

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