Henry V Essay
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The second poem I read was different to Henry V, it was a poem called Boots. This poem was written by a poet called Rudyard Kipling. It was written 1889-1902, it wasn’t written at the same time as Henry V, but it was written around the same time length of a War known as the Boer War, this was a War in South Africa (which at that time was known as Rhodesia) with the Dutch settlers (Boers) versus the British and Commonwealth soldiers.
The soldiers in the Boer War had lots more weapons than the weapons in the Battle of Agincourt (Agincourt). The people in the Boer War used rifles and guns, whereas the weaponry in Agincourt was hand to hand combat, you had to see the soldiers to kill them. In this War you could shoot from a far range, so the chance of killing somebody is more predictable. In this poem Boots, the person is talking to us, so this unknown speaker is speaking in the 3rd person. The soldier in this poem is a foot soldier because he is in the infantry columns, which means that he has to march to wherever his battle zone was. The speaker in this poem has a very different attitude to Henry V.
To find out what rank he is, we know that he is in the infantry columns so that tells us that he is a foot soldier (as mentioned). So he is at the bottom of the pile, where as Henry V is at the top and calls the shots. Evidently he has been marching a long time, particularly when he says “seven-six-eleven-five-nine-an-twenty-mile-today”. This proves that he has been marching a long time. He adds them up because he has nothing else better to do.
I learn from reading this poem Boots it is written in an informal language, especially when he says “sloggin” and “taint”. This makes him a low status person, which makes him different to Henry V; he enjoyed War and looked at it as a game and a way to prove you as a man. However the speaker in Boots feels the complete opposite, the speaker doesn’t see War as a game; he sees it as a job that he has to do and-unlike Henry- wants to get it over and done with rather than have fun with it.
The speaker wants to go home, significantly when he says “there’s no discharge in the War”. The language that he uses tells us that he is a working class person and he talks the same as somebody in the streets, so it makes the person more interesting because it is the kind of language that we are familiar with. This is different to Henry V because he is a high status person and speaks in a language that we do not understand. “Unto the breach, once more”, I personally wouldn’t understand this. On the other hand the speaker in Boots says things like “sloggin’ over Africa”. This I can understand what it means- “sloggin'” is another word for marching. Thus is something that we understand.
This poem tells me that this speaker and his fellow soldiers are marching to their battle zones, particularly when it says “we’re foot-slog-slog-slog-sloggin’ over Africa”. From this line we can tell that he is marching over Africa, slogging suggests that he has been doing it for a long time and it is something that he doesn’t want to do.
From what I inferred, I learn that there is a lot of repetition and a rhythm in this poem, indeed a bit too much repetition as it states in every line “Boots-Boots-Boots-Boots-movin’ up an’ down again” the rhythm is in the style of marching, which is appropriate for this theme-which is travelling to War. This would make the poem fore effective because it tells you a little bit more about the speaker and what he is doing. It also makes the poem sound like a song, like it can be performed, so a rhythm adds a bit of an extra picture to the poem.
We can infer that he is feeling pretty fed up, like it is driving him mad, examples are such as “Boots… moving up and down again…” and “men go mad with watching ’em”. Whereas Henry V was like a small child in a fairground; he was telling them to go for it, never to be afraid and to be part of it. However this speaker seems to want to go home, and is annoyed that he cannot do that. On the other hand Henry V wanted to go to War and was annoyed of how his fellow soldiers were feeling so scared, so reluctant.
Apart from the fact that this speaker is fed up of it, he doesn’t seem to have much power. So this has made him mad, it has made him think about the back of the boots belonging to the soldier in front of him. With Henry V, he has lots of power, and it has made him think nicely of War. By the way the poem is structured, there is no rhyme as far as I can see, nor was there much in Henry V. By every verse in Boots there is the same line “there’s no discharge in the War” this is known as a refrain, which means that a particular line is repeated. With Henry V there’s no verses-there’s blank verse- but no verses. There is no use of blank verse nor is there any form of iambic pentameter in Boots, there is a difference because only Henry used this.
In this poem the speaker is talking about boredom. I honestly didn’t expect this as I personally think of War as death, fear, injuries etc. I never realised that War could be boring. When I read this I felt shocked because it does show you how boring War can actually be. On the other hand I don’t think all Wars are like that, in the poem of Henry V, he was talking about it being a game and something to be happy about, and also the in the next poem I am going to discuss, doesn’t say that War is boring. The speaker in Boots talks about War as a boring experience that you wouldn’t want to be part of.
The next pair of poems I looked at showed that attitudes of War alter if you have or haven’t had first hand experience. The first poem I looked at was a poem called Charge of the Light Brigade. This was a poem by a man called Alfred lord Tennyson. This poem was written around about November 1854. Tennyson wasn’t actually in the War but got the information from the local newspaper which I believe was The Times, which was reported a week after the event actually happened. Alfred lord Tennyson was a Poet Laureate; which was a role for one particular poet who was to write about significant events. So he wrote this poem to honour the soldiers.
The actual War was called the Crimean War; which was between the Russian Empire versus the British Empire, the French Empire and the Ottomans (Turkish Empire). This War was famous for several reasons: firstly it was the start of modern nursing, it all started with a woman called Florence Nightingale. Florence set up a Warfare hospital in the warfare zone. This wasn’t acceptable beforehand, because women had to see the men’s private parts to treat them.
Secondly it was the way officers were appointed; back in those days officers had to buy their commission. As a result of this many lives were lost because the men in charge didn’t have any experience. The final reason why this War was famous is because of the military blunder; the British Empire was given the order to sneak round to the back of the Russian cannons and take them out. But the message that they were given was to charge forwards- right towards the cannons being fired by the Russians! Many lives were lost as a consequence.
Although this poem was written around November 1854 (the charge itself was 25 October 1854) this poem was written in a formal language. I know this because there isn’t any use of abbreviations, no colloquialism; I think that there isn’t any slang terms because Tennyson wants to honour the soldiers so he talks about them Warmly in a formal language “honour the charge they made”. This shows that he is honouring the duty of these soldiers; when he uses repetition, he says “…six hundred”. I have also noticed that on the forth line of every verse there is a word rhyming with “hundred”, there are words like “blundered”, “thundered”, “wondered”. This is another method of repetition.
He made this poem more dramatic by the use of imaginary language like “Into the jaws of death”, he said this because the light brigade had to charge down the valley into the Russians even when they knew it was dangerous, this is why he honours them. I also know that he uses verbs- very powerful verbs- such as “sabring”, “charging”, “plunged”, and reeled”. These are used to create an effect, which is to try and make the reader understand the amount of soldiers that were killed.
In the Crimean War 661 people went out, 113 people were killed, 134 were wounded, and 45 people were taken prisoner and 362 horses were either lost or killed. And also he uses a handful of description, especially when he states “flushed as they turned in air”. Tennyson used that much description that you can see the sunlight on the swords in your head. Another example is when he says “cannon to the right of them, cannon to the left of them, cannon in front of them” this shows what shots were coming at them. When he says this he actually means “look these soldiers died for our country so show some respect” nowadays people don’t need to do this nowadays there’s the memorial association that where they do memorial services. Evidently in these days there weren’t any memorials so it was all left to the Poet Laureate.
Alfred Lord Tennyson uses a lot of description to make his poem more dramatic. Certainly when he says “reeled from the sabre-stroke, shattered and thundered”. This shows that the description used is very moving of how the English army slashed through the cannon blasts. The reader would be able to imagine it as if they were there. What I also realise is that this poem was written after the War had taken place.
In Boots, the poem was set on the way to War; in Henry V it was set before the War, so there is a connection between the poems so far. I also found out that Tennyson uses imaginary language, like when he uses “flashed all their sabres bare” this helps you create a vivid picture of soldiers swishing their swords about. The effect of this is very touching, it makes you realise how brave these soldiers really were. Most of the soldiers were feeling scared and weak, but Tennyson makes out that they are brave, tough, ultimate survivors. He did this because-as explained before- he is Poet Laureate- he wanted to honour the light brigade “honour the charge they made. Honour the light brigade, noble six hundred.”