Poetry Coursework Essay
My essay is going to discuss the comparisons and contrasts of the three poems I have chosen. The first is called ‘In Flanders Fields’ and is written by John McCrae, born in 1872-1918. McCrae was a Canadian doctor who first served as a gunner in Europe and gradually became a military medical officer. He partook in the battle and had a sense of strong disagreement to it. McCrae died at the age of 46 years. He didn’t die like most of the other soldiers in the war. He did not die like others from a bullet or bomb, but from disease, pneumonia, in his case. Nowadays this disease can be treated, but not then. The next one is called ‘Fall In’ written by Harold Begbie. He was the son of a clergyman. He was born in 1871-1929. He had a very successful career writing novels and children’s books. One of the most popular poems he wrote was a biography of General Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army.
At the beginning of the war he published several poems designed to shame men who hadn’t joined the army, to do so. By the end of the war, he changed his opinion and was horrified by what was happening during the war and what he had done at the beginning of it. ‘Fall In’ was first published in a volume called Fighting Lines and Various Reinforcement (1914). The last poem will be ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ written by Wilfred Owen. Owen states in this poem that he does not intend to glorify war and tell people what a ‘wonderful place’ it is. Wilfred was born in 1893 and had been pressured by propaganda, where he volunteered on 21st October 1915 to become a war militant to serve for his country. It has been argued that Owen is the best war poet of England but there are many others that are just as inspirational.
Two of my poems share the view that the war was a disaster and lead to tragic numbers of lives being lost. But the other is showing how the men who didn’t fight for their country won’t be ‘getting the girls’. The poems have different structure, imagery and mood.
In the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’, McCrae uses imagery to express his views on the war. The imagery is very powerful, ‘we are dead’ showing that the horrific effects of war by the fact that the soldiers lives were ended much shorter than what they could have been if they hadn’t fought and died in the battle, where they were trying to fight for their country and show they are loyal men. McCrae also uses imagery in another way to show that there were many lives lost on the battlefield. In this case being dead soldiers. He says in his poem ‘row on row’ this shows that poppies are representing soldiers lives and that there are so many lives lost that there are rows and rows of poppies rather than just a few.
I quote from the poem ‘we shall not sleep, though the poppies grow in Flanders Fields’ means that even though the soldiers won’t rest in peace the poppies will carry on growing in memory of them. In this poem, McCrae does not use personification, similes or metaphors however he still happens to create a lot of imagery. This is very strange to how we are very used to seeing many different poets’ points of view and imagination from Similes and metaphors. The poem uses symbolic words. A real poppy contains the colours green. This symbolizes men fighting for their land to make it free. The red is representing the battle fields and the stains with the soldier’s blood, and the stem which could represent courage of fallen soldiers that will rest in peace and will be remembered for ever and ever.
One of the techniques used is repetition, when he states ‘row on row’ McCrae tries to pressure the fact that there were rows beyond belief. He doesn’t state a figure he just says that the rows looked like they were never ending. He points to the fact again that so many people who were brave enough to fight for their country, lost there lives. There is also some alliteration in this quote. The effect of alliteration is that it helps you visualise how many people died and causes a pattern with the effect of a more visual picture in your head. The title of the poem, ‘In Flanders Fields’ is repeated several times, showing that all the imagery we are picturing is a field with dead soldiers, and he wants to point out how gory it is. McCrae also repeats, ‘loved and were loved’ which shows that the soldiers are and were loved and greatly missed still today. He is trying to gain the readers sympathy for what the soldiers had to go through. For the first stanza of this poem the rhyming scheme is A A B B A. For the 2nd stanza it is A A B C and for the 3rd stanza it is A A B B A C. The beginning of the second stanza he uses a very powerful phrase to gain the readers attention, ‘we are dead’. This creates an impact, how it wasn’t very long ago when soldiers fighting for Brittan lost their lives.
The mood of the first stanza is over-romantic. It introduces the soldiers and how they are remembered in a calm place. The second stanza (4 lines long) is also quite slushy and talks about how the soldiers are loved and remembered. As it gets to the third stanza (6 lines long) the mood changes into a more grim and persuasive manor, asking people to join the war and carry on fighting for the soldiers that couldn’t, ‘The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die’. This also persuades others to take up the defence force course and fight for the freedom they deserve so that the soldiers can rest in harmony. The
rhyming scheme of this poem is made to symbolize the marching of the soldiers.
In the poem ‘Fall In’ it’s taking about what would happen to you if you don’t go to the war. It tries to use a sense of jealousy ‘When the girls line up the street’ it makes you feel that when it’s over, you will feel like the odd one out and that your not cared about. It persuades people to enlist in the war and fight for there country and those who do, will be rewarded. I think that the voice that is speaking in the poem is an army general telling the people to enlist and using persuading techniques to help them change their mind.
There is not much use of imagery in the poems, however, there is a vast amount of ways he uses sound techniques. The poem has many rhetorical questions, ‘How will you fare, sonny, how will you fare’ and ‘your brothers stand to the tyrant’s blow and Britain’s call is gods?’ This keeps the reader thinking and makes them think time and time again. ‘Will you slink away, as it were from a blow’ this is both a rhetorical question and a simile, from this we really start to see how desperate they are to get more people to fight and lose their lives.
The poem is structured in a very original way, and the rhyme scheme is very original AB AB CD CD. The mood in the poem is quite depressing, almost as if your getting told of by a teacher, he is saying in the poem, what will you do if….? Almost as if he is taunting you.
In the poem ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ by Wilfred Owen, the poem is about the youth going to war and they never returned to be greeted and loved by their friends and family. It also talks about how they had their ‘Funeral’. The author, Owen, is talking to the public show them they reality. ‘Monstrous anger of the guns’, this phrase is very affective. Guns don’t have human emotions, so we know it’s an example of personification from the poem. The phrase shows the anger of the soldiers and what they had to go through for all these years. We also see a very powerful phrase in the poem ‘rifles’ rapid rattle’. This alliteration speeds up the poem and engages the reader to read on. He also uses a rhetorical question like many other poets to get the reader to slow down and think a little ‘What candles may be held to speed them all?’ this also states that the soldiers wont be getting a funeral, so its asking what candles will they get? The answer is they won’t be getting candles because they are forgotten and they will never be rekindled ever.
This poem has two verses in it; the first one is rather personal and aggressive showing his rage that this kind of cruelty can be done to such innocent young soldiers. As it gets to the 2nd verse it gets rather emotional and it touches the reader, getting them to try and see what is happening to these young men, full with potential.
The rhyme scheme in this poem is A B A C, D E D E. At the end of the poem it shows a dramatic ending showing the ‘drawing-down of blinds’. Showing that these poor innocent lives have to come to an end, and it is your fault that they have killed the new generation that had lots of prospective.
Two of the poems are against war (‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ and ‘In Flanders Fields’), showing the reality behind it and the sheer cruelty and suffering of innocent young men. The other (‘Fall In’), is a letter persuading men to enlist for the war, sugar coating it to make it seem like its heaven, they only realise that it’s sour and bitter in the middle till they live in the trenches day to day.
In ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ I agree with the points being made but I am not so keen on the way he expresses his views, I think it’s a bit aggressive and a little over the top.
In ‘In Flanders Fields’ I agree very much because its making its point in a rather less aggressive way to ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’. It gets its point across strongly without shocking the reader and frightening them into the truth.
In ‘Fall In’ I think it’s disgusting that people write poems about signing up for the war and how much it benefits you. I was concerned about did the author Harold Begbie know the actual conditions of the war? I found out that by the end of the war he had changed his view and was horrified by the slaughter on both sides.