During the 1st world war many poems were written by the soldiers and by normal citizens expressing their views on the war. Some in favour of the war- these were generally written by the normal citizens. And the poems that were written by the soldiers showed just how dreadful the war was and how they had to survive in the awful conditions of the trenches and the land around them destroyed by the fighting and weather.
Some of the poems from the war are recognised throughout the world. And many of the poets famous for the service to the country and for the poems they produced, for example: Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon.
Many of the poets who weren’t actually fighting in the war wrote poems trying to encourage young me to join up for the war, they glorified war and made it sound like a bit of fun. For example Jessie Popes “who’s For The Game?”
“Who’s for the game, the biggest that’s played”
Refers to war as a game. Suggesting that war is no more than a big game which everyone can enjoy.
Who’ll grip and tackle the job unafraid?
And who thinks he’d rather sit tight?
Who’ll toe the line for the signal to “Go!”?
Who’ll give his country a hand?
Pope is asking the reader if they would be brave, do as they are told, go out there are do well for their country or who will prefer to miss out and sit at home.
Who wants to turn himself into the show?
And who wants a seat in the stand?
Who wants to be recognised as a brave soldier who fought in the war. Or who wants to watch on and be more of a nobody.
Who knows it wont be a picnic -not much-
Yet eagerly shoulders a gun?
You no it isn’t going to be easy but you can carry on with a brave face none-the-less.
Who would much rather come back with a crutch?
Than lie low and be out of the fun?
You may come back injured. But its better than missing out on all the fun.
Come along, lads -but you’ll come on all right-
For there’s only one course to pursue,
Your country is up to her neck in a fight,
And she’s looking and calling for you
More persuasive way of getting people to fight,
Obviously Pope does not know about the hardship of war and what really happens there or she would not be referring to it ion this way.
Unfortunately too many young men went off to be a part of the “game” and were sent to their death.
Now many of the soldiers were not happy with poems like this And Wilfred Owen wrote “Dulce et Decorum est” which illustrates more vividly the hardship and struggle of war.
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks
Knock-need, coughing like hags, we cursed through
The soldiers are ill and weak. Not really fit to be in a fight. But they have to keep on going anyway.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
They were tired. Didn’t have the correct equipment, bleeding and in need of hospital care.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
In war you have to be ready for anything whether or not you are ill, injured or tired.
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring in fire or lime. . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
Someone was too ill or weak to get ready and was caught by the gas and it appeared as if he was drowning.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
Nightmares of the above event.
If in some smothering dreams you to could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
The effects of the gas bombs were dreadful. “devil’s sick of sin” emphasising the pain and terror the victim was in.
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood.
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
The effects of gas bombs described.
The old lie: Dulce et Decorum est
pro patria mori.
Total disagreement with Jesse Pope
This poem describes- in detail- how the men who were tired, ill and and wounded had to keep on going through the pain and then having to watch their innocent friend die and be carried away still alive but dying slowly and in agony and hell.
This was something that nobody, good or bad deserved to see. And after reading this poem you can understand why soldiers were angry at the poems produced by people glorifying war like Jessie Pope.
Another famous poet from the Great War is Seigfreed Sassoon.
One of his poems “Died of Wounds” is a poem about a man who died in the war. And had is hospital place taken by a faker. Many people pretended to be hurt to get out of war(just shows how dreadful it was for people)
“His wet white face and miserable eyes
Brought nurses to him more than the groans and sighs:
But hoarse and low and rapid rose and fell
His troubled voice: he did the business well.
This verse describes the victims appearance and that they were more worried about how he was looking than the groans of pain. He was a good soldier.
The ward grew dark; but he was still complaining
And called out for ‘Dickie’. ‘Curse the Wood!
Its time to go. O Christ, and what’s the good?
We’ll never take it and its always raining.’
As the night came through he was calling out and complaining in his sleep. He is probably having flash backs from a moment in the war.
I wondered where he’d been; then heard him shout,
‘They snipe like hell! O Dickie, don’t go out’ . . . .
The poet was wandering what the man was thinking of. And heard the man call out again. It sounds like the casualty is re-living a moment when his friend when out and was shot down by snipers.
I fell asleep . . . . Next morning he was dead;
And some slight wound lay smiling on the bed.
When the poet awakes there is someone who is not Ill in the place of the man who had died.
The poem “Suicide in the Trenches” shows that the life in the war was so bad that just to get out of war people would take their own lives.
I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life with empty joy,
Slept soundly through lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.
A rather simple lad who was neither good or bad. Slept quietly and was up bright and early the next morning.
In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
But, during the cold winters. Men suffered from lice and crumps and did not have the rum that they were promised.
He put a bullet through his brain
No one ever spoke of him again.
This was all too much for the poor boy. He killed himself and nobody seemed to care.