The Portrayal of War in On the Idle Hill and The Destruction of Sennacherib

The Portrayal of War in On the Idle Hill and The Destruction of Sennacherib

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The Portrayal of War in On the Idle Hill and The Destruction of Sennacherib

The structure of these 2 poems are similar but comparisons can be made
between "On the idle hill" and "The destruction of Sennacherib"
Although the content is similar the title, tone, language, devices,
structure and punctuation are very different.

In the early 1800's when Byron wrote "The destruction of Sennacherib"
a large war campaign was occurring; The Napoleonic Wars. The wars
surrounding him would effect his view on war. In the late 1800's when
Housman wrote "On the idle hill", no major battle was occurring.
However, ironically within 20 years of this poem more "lads" were
being sent to the slaughter in World War One.

The titles of the two poems are very different. "On the idle hill"
portrays a very passive image, whereas "Destruction of Sennacherib" is
very active. Byron's poem is a stereotype of war. The title shows
action and it brings a sense of all encompassing. Whereas "On the idle
hill" shows laziness as "idle" personifies the hill making the start
of the poem peaceful and natural. This image contradicts war, which is
very ironic.

The two poems by Byron and Housman portray war. "On the idle hill" is
a very natural affair. "The Destruction of Sennacherib" is a very
violent and graphic event. Both of the poems show the beginning and
the end of the battle and misses out the actual war. This firstly
leaves the battle to the readers imagination so it can be interpreted
differently, and secondly it makes the reader concentrate of the
consequences. Although Byron's poem doesn't show the battle it has a
brutal and horrific image of the aftermath, "the foam of his gasping
lay white on the turf." This makes the battle s...

... middle of paper ...

...ay. "On the Idle hill"
finishes with two war instruments calling back from the battle. This
may be reflecting back to the initial dreamy state. When it says,
'woman bore me, I will rise' it can be read in many different ways. It
can be read into as a warning that war may rise again because it is
inevitable. Or it can alternatively be read as there being a female
influence in nature that will rise up. Altogether it is a positive
ending that shows Humanity versus evil. "The Destruction of
Sennacherib" has a very religious ending. It ends with the all the
soldiers dead. God killed the Assyrians because they killed the holy
people. There is a strong reference to nature that may be a reference
to God, 'Hath melted like snow'.

Both of the poems are ended extremely differently, "On the idle hill"
is optimistic and "Destruction of Sennacherib" is pessimistic.

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