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The Battle by Louis Simpson - How do the poets communicate emotional
or moving responses to war?
What do these poems tell us about wartime life and the thoughts and
feelings of civilians and soldiers?
How do the poets communicate emotional or moving responses to war?
The following essay will try to answer the question above. Using
references and quotes from three wartime poems I will explain what
they tell us about wartime life and the thoughts and feelings of
civilians and soldiers. I will also clarify how the poets communicate
emotional and moving responses to the disturbing war. The three poems
that will be analysed are:
· Route March Rest - by Vernon Scannell,
· Night Raid - by Desmond Hawkins,
· The Battle - by Louis Simpson.
I have selected these poems because they contain both similarity and
contrast. These aspects are important in order to produce a
high-quality essay as they provide a more balanced view of the poems.
Both the contrasts and similarities will be shown to give the reader a
clearer overview of the poems.
The three poems, as mentioned above, have all been written during
wartime and therefore display hatred towards the fighting. However,
they demonstrate this dislike using different methods. Vernon
Scannell's technique in Route March Rest is important as he uses
contrasting images and descriptions to create an overall picture of
death and dismay. Scannell does this by initially introducing a scene
of harshness using such tough words as "skulls", "thumping",
"crunched" and "clanked". He then smoothes the picture out by creating
a more calmed and restful atmosphere using such soft words as "silent,
cool" and "bright as buttercups". But this is short lived as the
marching image is reintroduced and the word "die" is placed at the
end. Desmond Hawkins technique in Night Raid is very unique as it is
done using completely free verses. At the start, strange characters
are introduced which immediately creates anxiety. Harsh sentences such
as "If there's a bomb made for YOU, You're going to get it" highlight
the feelings of distress and misery present in all of the various
people. War is also displayed negatively using this sentence: "She was
shivering and laughing and throwing her head back". People would not
normally be doing this and so it makes the reader link disease-like
behaviour with war. Louis Simpson's technique in The Battle is
fascinating as he uses repetition, onomatopoeia, tempo and colours to
produce an "anti-war" description. The three poems are similar as they
are all about the negative aspects of war, but they differ in terms of
How to Cite this Page
"Route March Rest by Vernon Scannell, Night Raid by Desmond Hawkins,." 123HelpMe.com. 04 Apr 2020
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There is also an intriguing skill that the poets used creating both
tension and suspense. It symbolises the feelings and ambience, which
surrounded the people living through the war. In Vernon Scannell's
poem, Route March Rest, obvious tension is created by the use of
shorter sentences towards the end and also the reintroduction of the
marching rhythm, which was present at the start. In Desmond Hawkins'
poem, Night Raid, tension is created right from the start as the first
character is a "sleeper" on a bench. This is seen again on the second
line with the introduction of a "daft boy". These bizarre characters
act as tension builders and, when combined with the other methods,
create a sense of threat and suspicion in the shelter. The sentence:
"They're coming up from the east. Way off the guns muttered distantly"
also builds up the tension since it mentions actions which dangerous
and approaching fast. The fact that they have not yet occurred, but
will definitely occur in the near future creates tension as well as
cynicism. The word "someone" is repeated at the beginning of lines 7
and 8 and is very significant. This is because it is a word that
instantly arouses doubt, for it addresses the anonymous on two
occasions. The two occasions are "someone muttered" and "someone
whispered". Muttered and whispered are two onomatopoeias, which
emphasise the mysteriousness of the poem. In Louis Simpson's poem, The
Battle, tension is not the distinct main characteristic. But it does
occur in the third stanza when the words become shorter, sharper and
simpler. This in turn builds up speed, which therefore creates
tension. All of the poems contain some element of tension but it is
more evident in "Night Raid" and "Route March Rest" than "The Battle".
Another feature of all three poems is the continuous presence of
contrasts. Poets can use contrasts to create a number of effects.
These include tension, suspicion, rhythm and the ability to persuade
the reader about the views of the poet. "Route March Rest" is a poem
of contrasts, rather like Wilfred Owen's "Spring Offensive". The main
contrast begins when the first stanza talks about harsh actions, such
as "Inside their skulls; the thumping tramp of boots". Then the second
stanza contains much softer, calming words such as, "silent, cool" and
"bright as buttercups". This clearly contrasts with the first stanza
and even last stanza since it contains a death scene at the end.
Scannell uses these contrasts to create an overall negative view about
the soldiers and their job. In Desmond Hawkins' poem, Night Raid,
there are very few contrasts. However, there is one that involves the
first half of the poem against the second. The first stanza is filled
with relatively small and concise words whereas the second stanza
contains longer and more descriptive words. This creates a slowing
down effect, as the short words of the first stanza build up the
tension, and then the long words of the last stanza slow it down.
Louis Simpson's technique in The Battle to create contrasts involves
onomatopoeias and metaphors. In the last verse it states, "tiredness
in eyes" and "hands looked thin around a cigarette". This verse is
much slower than the rest, which is a big contrast since it is meant
to be in mid battle. Also, the "bright ember" represents the
ever-glowing pulse of life and is therefore an opposite of the dull,
black and white coloured images described in the earlier stanzas.
Contrasts are present in each of the three selected poems but "Route
March Rest" and "The Battle" use colours whereas "Night Raid" uses the
length of words.