Written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ is based on the Crimean war that took place in Balaclava. Famous for its cynical effect on war, this poem explicates why the regiment were defeated. Additionally, it has a dramatic theme by using phrases that allow the reader to sense the environment.
Jessie Pope- author of ‘Who’s for the Game?’- was an English poet, writer and journalist who was best known for her patriotic poems that were published during World War 1. ‘Who’s for the Game?’ is similar, in a way to Lord Tennyson’s poem because they are both talking about war, as well as both poems contributed in newspapers. Yet Pope conveys a more persuasive, enthusiastic and memorable message, in which she literally tells the audience that they are the ones who have to participate. After studying WWI, an arrogant woman she may seem. She had no absolute idea of how dangerous the battlefield was, making her poem a misunderstanding.
‘Dulce et Decorum est’ creates an aberrant impression altogether, to contradict to the other poems. Wilfred Owen explains that the public comforted themselves with the fact that the shell-shocked young soldiers were dying noble and heroic deaths, whereas in reality, fighting for the country lead to unnecessary death of innocent lives. Owen, twentieth century’s best poet, spread the popular phrase-‘it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country’- wrong.
In ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’, Alfred Lord Tennyson’s use of interminable repetition is unexpected. His first two lines, “half a league, half a league”, mimics the rhythm of galloping horses. This also adds reality to the light brigade, as they were a cavalry unit.
“The valley of death” is a powerful metaphor used to highlight that even though the situation was dangerous; the regiment were overcoming their fear and being brave. This is exaggerated by the last word “onward” from the sentence before.
Assuming from the context, the pronoun “he” is the man in charge of the unit. According to verse one, the commander orders the soldiers to advance the light brigade and charge for the guns. This demand shows that the soldiers had to obey what “he” ordered, even if it was perilous.
The repetition structure is fragmented. This is because the repeated word appears at the beginning or whole line. Tennyson uses not only repetition but also a rule of three when he wrote “theirs not to make reply, theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die”, also in the second stanza. The repetition in this emphasises that there was no time for an explanation and the fact that someone had “blunder’d” had to be ignored.
Starting the third stanza is yet another descriptive rule of three and repetition. The effect of cannons surrounding the soldiers accentuates that no matter where the bold soldiers looked, they could only find certain death. No safety could be found. Furthermore, it adds to the claustrophobic feeling of entering the valley of death.
To describe the rush of the regiment, Tennyson uses “Volleyed and thundered; Stormed at with shot and shell”. This vivid image shows the brigade avoiding the bullets that are flying around and the enemies charging into them with dangers that the troop faced.
Tennyson uses fierce personification: “Jaws of Death”. This creates a feeling of horror as it describes the opposition party as the trigger of death and it suggests that death was trapping the soldiers as if jaws opening and closing.
The last two lines of Tennyson’s stanzas use enjambment, which is determined by the lines “Into the mouth of hell, Rode the six hundred”. In addition, one could picture the regiment entering the black abyss that is about to annihilate them.
Tennyson describes the sound of a sword being pulled out by using onomatopoeia. The word impact on the powerful verb “flashed” helps the audience to visualise the scene. Also in the fourth stanza, “shattered” is another onomatopoeic verb.
At the end of the fourth, fifth and sixth verses, Lord Tennyson creates suspense by changing the monosyllabic word “rode”, into “not”, “left” and “Noble”. The suspense hints that the poem is concluding and that the regiment were defeated.
Stanza six provides a final respect to the brave heroes as Tennyson uses the rhetorical question, “When can their glory fade?” Following the enquiry, the poet tells the reader to “Honour the charge they made” and to “Honour the Light brigade” because apparently, they died noble deaths.
The title “Who’s for the Game?” is an extended metaphor throughout the poem. The word “game” is referred to war in Popes poem; this is a contradiction as war is the complete opposite of a game.
This poem is aimed at younger males to recruit. This is why the poet uses slang and informal language- such as “Come along lads”- to make the language sound light-hearted.
Misleading as it is, this poem doesn’t state any of the consequences like death. The terms “grip” and “tackle” in the first stanza are sport expressions that Pope used because rugby and football were seen as men’s sport, this lead to most of the men signing up since they thought that the worst injury would put them on crutches. Not on death.
She uses 14 rhetorical questions in this poem; one of them being “who’ll give his country a hand?” This makes the reader feel guilty if he does not go to war because if they lose, then it makes the cowards feel it was their fault. The reader thinks it is their duty to go to war because of the inspiring personification in these lines: “Your country is up to her neck in a fight and she’s looking and calling for you”. Moreover, it involves the reader.
Wilfred Owen clearly states that war is terrible and horrific, in his poem. He uses convincing figurative language in his first line, “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,” which shows that the group were so tired that they could be compared to old beggars.
The poet also utilizes alliteration in order so a sense of urgency is added to the poem. For instance, he says that the soldiers are “knock-kneed”, conveying the wild chaos of being in battle.
The effect of comparisons is to create a frightful, almost medieval atmosphere, as Owen describes the soldiers coughing like “hags.” In line 2, by saying “we cursed through sludge,” he reminds us that war is not a distant sight or the heroic scene described by Tennyson in “The Charge of the Light Brigade”, but reality, the verb cursed suggests that the soldiers fought war with assiduity.
Owen uses the simple adjectives “tired, outstrip” to portray the five-nines that were dropped behind. This shows that the grave nature of the men’s fatigue was so extreme that even the Five-nines (or sulphur mustard bombs) were outstripped. Thus, the illustrations create a sombre, miserable world, one in which the indignities the soldiers suffer seem as if they will go on indefinitely.
Owen intends to use irony while saying “ecstasy” in second stanza. Certainly, the men should not be delighted about the attack. However, Owen might simply mean that the soldiers have entered a state of emotion so intense that even a rational thought is destroyed.
The rule of three in the two-lined paragraph stresses the pain the soldiers were in. “Guttering, choking, drowning.” They show how helpless the soldiers actually were and contradict with who’s for the game as Pope estimated war as a picnic.
The way Owen uses “My friend” in a sarcastic manner, to address Jessie pope, reassures us that he is not happy with her as she deceived many young people. Also it taunts her; as she reads this her attitude towards war would change.
The patriotic slogan: “Dulce et Decorum est; Pro patria mori”, is said without irony. Simply, it is called a lie. This brings full effect to the poem because it is the shortest line in the poem, using crucial words. This suggests that if Pope continues to spread the lie to young men, those men will create the abstract noun, hatred, for her.