The Attitudes to the First World War in Poetry

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The Attitudes to the First World War in Poetry

Compare and contrast the attitudes to the First World War in the

poetry you have read. Focus in detail on four poems, two of which

should be by the same author.

When the war started the general feeling of the English was that the

war was great and would be over before Christmas. This is evident in

much of the early war poetry. As the war progressed, however, people

began to feel disillusioned and eventually had an overwhelming feeling

of futility in that so many lives were wasted for such little gain.

The people back home were left feeling bitter as they gained knowledge

about the suffering these young men had endured. The poetry I am going

to analyse ‘The Soldier’ by Rupert Brooke, ‘Cricket’ by Jessie Pope,

Dulce et Decorum est’ and ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ by Wilfred Owen

reflects these changing views.

Rupert Brooke was born in 1887. He joined the Navy at the start of the

war, but died in 1915 whilst going to take part in the Dardenelles

campaign. In 1914, Brooke composed his poem ‘The Soldier’ which is the

fifth poem in a collection of five which displays the glory of war.

As he saw little action in the Great War, Rupert Brooke was unaware of

the terrible conditions in the trenches. This was because he never

fought on the battlefields and due to this Brooke holds a much more

glorified view of war. Brooke describes his death in ‘The Soldier’. He

talks about how he is not scared of dying; describing the way in which

he will rest in peace “under an English heaven.” Rupert Brooke sees

England as idyllic and tranquil and talks about his love for his

motherland. Brooke feels by fighting for England he is giving

something back.

Brooke uses many language techniques to portray his feelings. He uses

repetition of the word “England” to show his patriotism. He refers to

the English country as a female; “Gave once, her flowers to love, her

ways to roam” This makes highly effective use of personification. It

shows Brooke's romantic view towards his country, making the reader

feel proud for his country as well. Religious overtones such as “evil

shed away”, “eternal mind”, “blessed” and “English heaven” are used

throughout ‘The Soldier’ to show purity and to portray the typical

views of a Christian country.

To make the poem calm and poetic, Brooke uses natural imagery such as

“air”, “river” and “flowers”. The effects of these words make the

reader feel happy and calm. Sibilance is used with; “Sights and

sound”. This soft sounding alliteration slows the pace which makes the
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