War poetry Essay
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There is irony in how Owen portrays dawn in this poem: “misery of dawn” dawn symbolises a new day, a fresh start but for the soldiers, instead of dawn bringing new hope, it just brings misery. This shows that at war the soldiers couldn’t relax for a minute or appreciate a new day without the threat of there being an attack and living in the fear a bomb could suddenly drop on them. Siegfried Sassoon shows a similar message in his poem ‘Aftermath’: “And dawn coming, dirty-white.
” The word ‘dirty’ suggests that war has contaminated dawn.
The reader learns that even the things that are meant to be beautiful and pure have been stained by war: “black with snow” snow is white and clean and in Christianity your sins are “washed as white as snow”. War has spoilt snow making it “black” which symbolises dark and evil. But along with this image, Owen shows the reader that snow did bring some aspect of joy to the men: “littered with blossoms trickling. ” The snow reminds them of blossom, in their memories of warm summers. In all the horror and cold, the soldiers have memories, but they wonder if it’s because they’re dead: “Is it that we are dying?
” Often when people are near death their life flashes before their eyes and they have very vivid memories of happy times. Owen explains the intensity and variety of emotion that the soldiers go through in one day. The reader learns that the soldier’s experiences made them question their faith: “For love of God seems dying. ” They feel that in all the horror, the only person they have left to go to has abandoned them. In the last stanza of ‘exposure’ Owen emphasises how badly affected the soldiers were by the conditions of war: “Shrivelling many hands, puckering foreheads crisp… All their eyes are ice.
” By the word ‘all’ this suggests that the living soldiers are just as doomed as the dead ones. They’re going through all this even though they are not fighting: “But nothing happens. ” The message Owen is trying to create is that for the men I it was not much the war that killed them but the weather. Through the structure and use of literacy devices in his poem, Owen re-enforces his message. There is assonance in the words from ‘exposure’: “iced east winds. ” Those words almost sound like the wind when they’re said which helps the reader to imagine those winds while reading the poem.
The phrase: “But nothing happens” is repeated several times. This emphasises the fact that despite all the misery and horror the soldiers are going through, nothing actually happens. In ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ Owen uses repetition too. The word “drowning” is repeated, this emphasises that even though the soldier was drowning and suffering in the gas, the other men did realise but couldn’t do anything to help him: “As under a green sea! They could see him but not reach out to him to help. In ‘The sentry’ alliteration is used: “Choked…
clay… climb. ” The repetition of the letter ‘c’ sounds like ‘choking’ which shows how hard it was for the soldiers to escape, they were trapped by the clay. Alliteration is also used in ‘Exposure’: “wearied we keep awake” this emphasises how ‘weary’ and tried the men are. In both poems ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ by Wilfred Owen and ‘Aftermath’ by Siegfried Sassoon, the poets use personal pronouns like ‘you’. This makes the reader think about what message is being said, relate it to themselves and become more involved with the poem.
Throughout Owen’s poems, he doesn’t blame anyone for the war apart from the weather in ‘exposure’. His shows the reader that the enemy are suffering just as much as them: “I am the enemy you killed, my friend. ” By the word ‘friend’ the reader learns that no matter which side you’re fighting for, all the men are in it together. It’s as though they’re all brothers. Another one of Owen’s poems called ‘Anthem for doomed Youth’ shows this too. By the phrase ‘doomed youth’ in the title it doesn’t sounds as if Owen only means his side, but everyone – all of the youth (soldiers).
Not only are the soldiers on his side ‘doomed’ but it’s just same for his opponents. The word ‘youth’ shows that they are still so young, but still out there fighting and suffering. Other poets for example Seigfried Sassoon, blames the Generals: “… he did for them both by his plan off attack” Sassoon felt strongly that the Generals did not do their jobs properly; their ‘plans of attack’ went wrong and he describes them as ‘incompetent’. In the poem ‘Mesapotamie’ by Rudyard Kipling, he criticises the officers and politicians in the same way as Sassoon does for the Generals: “…
the men who left them thriftily to lie in their own dung… ” Kipling accuses them of not caring about the dying soldiers and only caring about saving their money (“thriftily”) and their position. It was not only during the war that anti-war poems were written but there is still anti-war poetry written today. In ‘Appendix IV Requirements in the shelter’ Adrian Mitchell writes about the hypocritical list that everyone was given during the war on which it said what you’d need for survival.
It had things like ‘plastic bags’ on it which people were instructed to put their family inside if they die: “adequate airtight containers for deceased persons” this shows how insensitive the people who wrote these lists were. Like Sassoon criticises the generals in his poems, Mitchell does to ‘the chief detectives’, ‘the MPs’ and anyone else who is, while people dying, “biding their time”. Also in this poem, Mitchell shows anger: “No I will not put my lovely wife into a large strong plastic bag. ” He feels his family deserve to be treated better than to be shoved into plastic bags.
This is similar to Owen, how he shows compassion. Another modern anti-war poem is ‘Relative sadness’ written by Colin Rowbotham. This poem links to Sassoon’s style because he also write very short poems but with a strong message. It is about eyes, which is similar to Owen who mentions eyes quiet a lot in his poetry. Rowbotham shows that being there at war is very different to just hearing about it: “eyes were filled with tears” That is the most Einstein can do, what has he got to worry about? Mr Tamiki cannot even cry: “had no eyes left” this is quite graphic imagery like Owen uses.
Also there is a link to Sassoon because Rowbotham has used a personal name to re-enforce his message. In conclusion I think that WW1 poets were so different to the kinds of poetry that had been written before because they hadn’t experienced war for what it really is. The scale of the slaughter during WW1 had never been seen before and the WW1 poets struggled to find suitable language to express what they were experiencing at first hand. The poetry that was written before WW1 didn’t help them because it gave out a completely different message to that which they wanted to send.
So a whole new kind of poetry was developed. During the months and years they were at war it made them realise many things. For example Isaac Rosenburg writes about things we wouldn’t usually notice in every day life, for example the singing of larks, poppies and a rat which he found great interest in. I doubt that some of the poets who died during war ever imagined that their poetry would be published so their poems are just their own personal pieces of writing, which were their only way of getting away from the terrors of war.
I think this is why many of the poems show so much emotion and compassion. Before WW1 war poetry was so different, mainly because poets didn’t actually know what war really is like. Also censorship at the time played a big part in making sure the poems made dying sound heroic and glorious. Which we now know it most definitely is not. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Miscellaneous section.