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How Have Poets’ Attitudes to War Changes From Tennyson to Owen? Essay Sample

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  • Word count: 1,353
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  • Category: poem

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Introduction of TOPIC

The opinion of war has changed greatly since World War one, poets like Tennyson wrote about how heroic soldiers were to go to war while recent war poets like Roger McGrough are against war. The reasons for this change in opinions since Tennyson is that modern day warfare is more dangerous killing more innocent people. Now day’s people are also less patriotic and people are more informed about past war horrors from poets who went to war and returned with bloody stories like Sassson and Owen. Mc Gough shows the seriousness of modern day war with his poem Icarus Allsorts, he writes “from every corner of the earth bombs began to fly”. This underlines how advanced and dangerous modern day technology is.

War poetry has changed dramatically since Alfred Tennyson in 1854. When Tennyson wrote ‘charge of the light Brigade’ most poets were very patriotic and pro war. In the modern days of poets like McGough most poets are anti-war and they write about the dangers of war.

The Crimean war was a war between Russia and Britain in 1854. During this war there was the disastrous ‘charge of the light brigade’ an obvious mistake by a general who sent 600 British men to inevitable death. The poet Alfred Tennyson wrote the poem ‘Charge of the light brigade’. There can be no escaping the respect Tennyson held for the men’s bravery, in the 6th verse he speaks directly t the audience and demands that they ‘honour’ the light brigade. This shows that Tennyson believes the solders are very heroic and brave. 2nd verse Tennyson shows how the soldiers know ‘theirs not to make reply’ showing how they do not question the generals poor decision despite how close they are to the valley of death’.

Throughout the poem Tennyson uses constant rhythm and he uses a lot of metaphors. His rhythm is imitating a horse’s stampede so the reader feels like they are a part of the charge or joining in with the charge. The speed of this poem is very quick making readers believe Tennyson thinks war is an exciting thing. Tennyson also speeds up the poem even more at the chorus to give added hurry and excitement.

Tennyson depicts death as proud, heroic and patriotic. He gives a detailed description of the soldiers fighting, ‘flashed all their sabres bare’ and then of there death, ‘horse and hero fell’, Tennyson wants to show the audience that the men died nobly and fought even in doubt over the command given.

World War one was one of the biggest wars ever. It was a time when Britain needed loads of soldiers to help fight. A lot of poets wrote persuasive poems to persuade people to join the army. These poets weren’t liked by other past war soldier poets because they didn’t show the reality of war and they wrote poets from the safety of their own homes instead of actually going to war.

One of the poets who wrote recru

iting poems was Jesse Pope. Jesse wrote poems telling people who weren’t at war that they were

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missing out on ‘the fun’, she also avoids mentioning death in her poems so the reader doesn’t get put off by the true horrors of war. Throughout the poem Jesse uses rhetorical questions. The actual title of one of her famous poems is ‘Who’s for the game’ is a rhetorical question. Using rhetorical questions makes the readers remember the question and then makes the reader question himself over and over it again, it is a persuasive technique. Another technique Jesse uses is using metaphors. When Jesse wrote ‘Who’s for the game, the biggest that’s played’ she compared war to a game. This made the readers picture as something they might enjoy which then makes the reader excited by the idea. Jesse uses the simple rhyme scheme A B A B so she can appeal to the lower and working class people who may not understand more complicated rhyme schemes. Another way she appeals to the lower and working class is by using very simple basic language.

As well as being one of the biggest wars ever, world war one was also one of the cruellest, most horrific and evil war ever. Because of the horrific dying. And because poets like Jesse Pope didn’t describe these deaths to future victims of war, there was a new type of poet made.

Siegfried Sassoon wrote war poetry because he had first hand experience of the horrors of war. He wrote realistically and descriptively about his horrors. Sassoon’s poem ‘Died of wounds’ describes the terrible images that went through the soldiers minds even when they weren’t in battle. One wounded soldier and Sassoon’s side was replaying the memories of war. He shouts how the Germans ‘Snipe like hell’; this really gives the reader a great image of the real realities of warfare in the trenches. Instead of a really long poem, Sassoon’s poem is very short but blunt and to the point. This gives a lasting affect on the reader who then will remember the poem in the future.

Another famous poet who wrote his poems with harsh description and realism was Wilfred Owen. One of Owen’s most famous poems was ‘Dulce et Decorum est’. This poem had very strong description of death. Owens aim in writing this was to tell people who had been persuaded to fight in the war that war wasn’t a ‘game’ and that there was loads of unseen horrors. By using very strong descriptions instead of simple description, like Jesse Pope, Owen was able to give the reader a very detailed visual image of the ‘Blind, Death and Lame’ men during war. To make the visual image even more clear Owen changes the pass of the poem when the men get gas attacked and a soldier shouts ‘Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!’ By making this change in pace the reader feels part of the attack and therefore is excited.

‘Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock -kneed, coughing like hag’. The opening sentence of ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ really grabs the reader’s attention but it also changes the common thought of soldiers being great heroes. Instead this quote reduces the men to a very low standard. By doing this Owen has made some readers feel sorry for the soldiers and other readers question whether they want to go to war and become that. Compared to other poets like Jesse Pope this is a really grim way to describe war but it gives more realism therefore more persuasiveness.

In the final Verse of the poem Owen address’s the people who were thinking about going to war directly and tells them that they to could ‘pace behind the wagon’ meaning they to could become apart of this misery. This really makes the readers question who is right about war Jesse, the writer who has never experienced war, or Owen who was a soldier in the World War. This poem is so persuasive and effective because of the use of visual imagery and very blunt description to show the readers the truth about the war.

Poet’s opinion has changed from Tennyson to Owen because of how dangerous war has become and because of how many people are affected by war. In early warfare poets believe it was heroic and patriotic to go to war and fight for your country. Now modern poets and poets from around the world war believe that war is a bad thing. They believe this because they have experienced war first hand and understand how it has affected them and others around them. Modern day poets also can realise how great the risk of another war is because of how more advanced technology is.

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