On August 1st 1914 Germany declared war on Russia. Then the next day Germany put into action a plan to attack France by advancing through Belgium. The reason for attacking France was that they had a treaty with Russia and they felt that the French would help Russia with invading them.
On 14th August 1914 after Germany ignored an appeal from Britain to refrain from violating Belgium’s neutrality in this attack on France, Britain declared war on them.
As it was the first major war that Britain had fort in for hundreds of years it sparked fantasies of becoming a war hero in young boys and men’s minds. Because the government had told everyone that the war would be over by Christmas, they decided to join up in an attempt to not miss the excitement of war. Little did they know that they were being sent to fight in a horrific war that would lead them to their deaths?
Some poets were also very patriotic just like all the young men going to fight. Because of this patriotism the poets wrote about how glamorous the war was and how good it was to die for your country. This was all an attempt along with propaganda to keep the number of men high enough to replace those who died. These men who wrote patriotic poems did see a bit of action but they were all mainly middle class people so were given high ranks in the army such as a General which ment that they would only give orders and rarely do fighting. Because of this they did not see the true horrors of war and carried on writing patriotic poems.
Fortunately there are some poets like Wilfred Owen and Seigfried Sassoon who did see the horrors of war and wrote very unpatriotic poems such as Dulce et Decorum est which was one of Owens his most famous poems. Dulce et Decorum est is featured in this essay along with An Anthem for Doomed Youth which are both written by Wilfred Owen. I will be comparing these poems with some of Jessie Pope’s poems which were from before the war and are very Patriotic.
Rupert Brooke wrote very Patriotic Poems, his death was ironic as he did fight in the war but he didn’t die there he died at home after being stung by a mosquito and getting blood poisoning. From the poem the soldier I can tell that Brookes thought very highly of his country.” a body of England breathing English air” he believes that he is part of England and wherever he is he is breathing English air. He wants to be remembered as part of England “if I should die think only this of me that there is some corner of a foreign field that is forever England” he is saying that he does not want anything but to be remembered as being part of England.
Rupert Brookes believed that if he died while fighting for England in the war he would be giving something back to his country “gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given.”
I think that Brooke believes that England is the greatest place on earth. ” In that rich earth a richer dust concealed.” Because he is English he thinks that if he dies and decomposes (turns into dust) the earth which he is buried in, if it is not English, will turn into richer English land because of his dust being there. From this poem I can tell that Rupert Brookes has a great love for England and believes that he is part of it.
The images that many of the recruitment poems portrayed were that war was fun and that men that went to fight were making their families proud. Jessie Pope wrote lots of recruitment poems such as Who’s for the game? And The Call. Here are some references from her poems, ‘Who’ll toe the line’ and ‘Who’ll grip and tackle the job unafraid’ it is persuasive phrase like them that she used to try and get people to sign up. Also there are parts of the poem that make the men feel guilty who hadn’t enlisted, ‘who wants a turn to himself in the show? And who wants a seat in the stand?’ and ‘who thinks he’d rather sit tight?’ this technique of making the reader embarrassed makes the reader feel responsible and pushes them to join up to the army and be a part of ‘the game’. The way of rhyming in ‘Who’s for the game?’ is very simple and makes the poem sound like a nursery rhyme, this is strange as the poem is about a very serious. The thoughts that Jessie Pope has towards the war are open from reading this poem, she thinks of the war as a very simple, straight forward concept, you enlist to the army, fight, win, then go home a hero.
Wilfred Owen fought in the First World War. He enlisted as most young men were doing, so that they could protect Britain. However, in the trenches he realized how horrific the war. Then later in a military hospital he created some of the best war poems ever like Dulce et Decorum est and Anthem for Doomed Youth.
The poem Dulce et Decorum est is probably the most famous poem written by Wilfred Owen. It is also the most anger filled and has the most detailed graphics which I have read. It has lines like “bent double like old men under sacks” this creates very disturbing images.
In my opinion the poem makes it sound as if Owen is out to change everybody’s opinion about war. The part of the poem which I find most disturbing is”…he plunges at me guttering, chocking, drowning” these lines tells you about a soldier drowning after a gas attack in front of Owen. Unfortunately he did not get his gas mask on and so he suffered an extremely painful death. This is emotional poem because the reader imagines being Owen and not being able to help the choking soldier.
The poem creates such an emotional feeling because of the ongoing horrific images that Owen creates with his words. “if you could hear at every jolt the blood come gargling from the froth corrupted lungs.” This describes how the soldier who was caught in a gas attack was being drove away still alive and have blood come from his lungs which have filled with water. The line “men marched asleep” is describing how they no longer care and what was once considered by them extra adventurous is now boring them to sleep.
The poem tells us that Owen did not like the poets who still used “the old lie” dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” which means that it is sweet and right to die for your country because he believed that it was not sweet or right to die for any country. This gives the poem a very sarcastic title, as it is the exact opposite of what the poem describes.
‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ is a sonnet. In the title are the words, ‘Doomed Youth’ which immediately informs the reader that this sonnet is a distressing poem about the boys who went to war ‘doomed’ never to return.
The opening line ‘What passing bells for these who die as cattle?’ Owen uses a simile to make up the image of a slaughterhouse. It creates the image of the men getting killed like animals. The main theme thought out the poem is that Owen feels that the soldiers did not get a proper funeral it is ironic as most of the men who died on the battle fields never had a funeral.
There is a strong marching beat to the poem and as it is entitled ‘anthem’, I believe that Owen wanted this poem to sound like a marching song. And the march is set to a disguise the sounds from battle. These sounds include: bells, ‘wailing shells and angry guns’ (personification – Owen personifies the guns, Owen wants the reader to feel that the weapons in the poem was not being controlled by the soldiers.)
The last line of ‘Anthem’ the ‘drawing down of blinds’ is the eye lids closing from those who died slowly that day.