Jesse Pope was a female poet during the war. Being a woman, she never went to the front line. Pope would write jingoistic poems for propaganda that would encourage men to join the army and go to war. She would use wrong reasons for going to war.
One of her most well known poems was ‘Who’s for the game’. She referred to the army and war as a game, “the biggest that’s played.” Jesse would say that war was a once in a life time opportunity. She also made references to sport, ” “who’ll grip and tackle,” (rugby). “Who’d rather come back with a crutch.” When she says this, she means that after fighting you may break a leg or even loose a leg, but this will be your badge of courage, it will make you a hero. She says “who’ll give his country a hand?” This is a patriotic, jingoistic reference, participating in war makes you a patriot. Jesse even says that war is fun “be out of the fun,” However a risk as well, “it won’t be a picnic, not much.” Pope says or hints that if you don’t go to war, you are a coward, “who thinks he’d rather sit tight” “who wants a seat in the stand.”
Wilfred Owen was very much against Jesse Pope’s poetry. He wasn’t anti war but he believed in joining war for the right reasons. Owen was at the front line, he served in the war. He would right poems about war and also poems to encourage men to sign up, but for the right reasons, the first of his poems I am going to write about is ‘Disabled.”
This poem is about a man who went to war and was crippled in action. “He sat in his wheelchair, waiting for dark.” Dark is referring to death, he has no meaning for his life, he can’t move or live properly, so he just waits to die. He could also already be dying and suffering as he gets closer to death. “And shivered in his ghastly suit of grey.” This suit could be his old uniform which holds bad memories of when he was hurt. It also might be a reflection of his mood, dull, sad. “Leg less and sewn short at the elbow.” He is referring to the suit again, he has lost his legs so the are no trouser legs, he has lost one, maybe both his arms so the sleeves are shortened. “Pleasure after day,” “Sleep had mothered them from him.”
This could mean that when he sleeps, it takes away his pain, he couldn’t feel his wounds anymore. Owen talks about the soldiers old life, “Town used to swing so gay.” He than talks about how he is now unattractive, “Now he will never feel how slim girls’ waists are or how warm their subtle hands.” “…Touch him like some queer disease.” Owen is saying that this man is the disease. “There was an artist silly for his face…” Owen is saying that before he was crippled, he was handsome “…for it was younger than his youth.” Owen may be saying that war has aged the soldier. Owen begins to talk about when the man used to play football “one time he used to like a blood smear down his leg.” People would compliment him, say he got stuck in, the cut would be his badge of courage. “…When he’d drunk a peg, He thought he’d better join.” This is saying that he signed up when he was drunk. “Someone said he’d look good in kilts,” “…to please his Meg,” Owen is saying he joined up because the girls would like him in uniform, Meg was probably his girlfriend. “Smiling they wrote his lie; nineteen years.” The man was underage. “Some cheered him home but not as they cheered a goal.” This could be saying that a goal was more important than his return, or that he was more of a hero when he scored.
This poem is encouraging men not to join war for the wrong reasons, the man in the poem joined for the wrong reasons and came out crippled.
The second poem I am going to write about is also by Wilfred Owen and is called ‘Anthem of doomed youth, a poem that Siegfried Sassoon inspired Owen to write.
The first line of the poem is “what passing bells for those who die as cattle.” The bells may be funeral bells, a sign that they will die, and they “die as cattle,” this means that they are all slaughtered, maybe by machine gun fire. Owen then goes on to say that the only thing that can “patter out their prayers are the gun’s noises. “No mockeries now for them, no prayers nor bells…” this is talking about their deaths. The soldiers will not have funerals, they will die and stay where they died “…nor any voice of mourning save the choirs.” This saying the same thin, there will be no choir, they will die and not be moved. “The shrill, demented choir of wailing shells,” this is also talking about their deaths and funerals, they will die to the sound of bombs, that will be their choir. In this poem, Owen uses a lot of onomatopoeia like “…dust and drawing-downs…” “…glimmers of goodbyes…” “…rifles’ rapid rattle…”