The Reality of War in Various Poetry Essay

The Reality of War in Various Poetry Essay

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The Reality of War in Various Poetry
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The First World War was unlike any previous was Britain had ever
fought. The horror of both the physical conditions and the reality of
battle moved soldier and officer alike to express their reactions in
verse. The soldiers' shock at the contrast between their experiences
and their previous conceptions of war as described by the propaganda
at home made many soldiers angry and bitter, which is reflected in all
of these poems. The poets intended to shock the complacent and naïve
British public into an awareness of the brutal horrors faced by the
soldiers at the front. The audience's lack of understanding was due to
the propaganda, which had fostered the belief, during previous years
of small colonial wars, that Britain was an indomitable world power.
The country had been brought up to believe 'the Old Lie: Dulce et
decorum est. / Pro patria mori.' It is sweet and honourable to die for
your country. Sassoon, Owen and Rosenberg attempted to dispel this
romanticised illusion of war and to present the British people with
the true horror of what the soldiers in the front line faced.

All eight of the poems describe the horror of both the trenches and
the battlefields although they all emphasise different aspects of the
conditions faced by the soldiers. Owen's 'Exposure' and Sassoon's 'The
Dug- Out' emphasise the cold and boredom of the soldiers. Owen
recounts "the merciless iced winds that knive …" the soldiers in the
front line trenches as described in 'Exposure'. The weather is

... middle of paper ...

...see you lights!" which means he won't be blind to
which Owen replies "But ours had long died out." This is a stark,
final note on war and the despair that they are experiencing.

The stark harshness of the imagery incorporated in the poems supported
by the poets uses of literary devices succeed in making the poems
powerful anti-war messages. The power of the poetry still affects the
reader today, although perhaps we view it more dispassionately than
the contemporary audience of the day, nevertheless the words and
images still appal. The last lines of "The Sentry" leaves the reader
with a sense of bleakness at the pointless ruination of this young
man's life. Equally the gassed soldier in "Dulce et decorum est"
evokes a hideous image of his agonising end which, like Owen, could
easily haunt your own "smothering dream".

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