Comparing and Contrasting the Portrayal and Warfare in Poetry

Comparing and Contrasting the Portrayal and Warfare in Poetry

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Comparing and Contrasting the Portrayal and Warfare in Poetry

War poetry

A Comparattive Essay

Choose two poets that we have studied so far. Compare and contrast the
portrayal of warfare in four of the poems studied.

This essay will compare and contrast the portrayal and warfare in four
of the poems studied.

The first world war was portrayed as a glorious and credible cause,
fighting war for your country was deemed as the duty of any credible
man. Being able to represent your country on the battlefield was the
greatest honour a man could have. Men were engulfed with the idea of
being able to fight for their countries futures. Women would have to
do everything they could to stop their husbands and sons from risking
their lives by signing up for the war. At this time poetry was written
to encourage men to go and fight, poets like jessie pope who wrote war
poetry enforced this view.





These poems were written about (and at the same time as), World War I,
between 1914 to 1918. In these barbaric four years->killing spree 7
million men and leaving 17 million men injured, (physically-the war
tactics resorted to the tortures of gas attacks, gun-shot wound, shell
shock, starvation and exposure, to name a few...), the rest were
scarred by memories never fading. World war one devastated lives and
souls, time and space. But citizens back home had no way of knowing
what war was capable of, without television or radio to communicate to
them, they were only left to imagine the true horrors men were
enduring. If people had reailsed the true extent and the horrors of
what was actually happening, morale would have been severely
detrimentally affected. These poems were created by the thoughts and
feelings expressed by soldiers at battle.

Propaganda was partially to blame for the young lives that were stolen
by the war, because it encouraged men to actively volunteer for the
dream of taking the empire to victory and in return recieve the pride
of serving their country. Propaganda was engineered to give citizens a
false impression/ illusion of positivity about the events that were
truely making history horrifically, and consistently sent a message of
fortitude and unity to the enemy. Men were driven by promised finicial
gain, status and the chance to travel, but under such pointless pain,
suffering and horror that awaited them, ready to engulf them all in
battle, in such conditions as; 48 hours bomboardment, being surrounded
by dead bodies, acheing (mentally, physically and emotionally), foul
infestation, and living in fear and horror was not worth the cost of a

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"Comparing and Contrasting the Portrayal and Warfare in Poetry." 19 Aug 2019

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life. The war/government became so hungry for soldiers, it turned a
blind eye to/denied the fact that younger men were lieing about their
age so as they could join up...

To answer the essay question in its entirety, I will look at four
poems written by two poets with completely different intentions; one
which encouraged men to fight for their countries and is patriotic,
and the other showing the realities of war. The poems I will look at
are ‘’Who’s For The Game?’’, “The Call”, by Jessie Pope, and “Dulce Et
Decorum Est” and “Disabled” by Wilfred Owen.

“Who’s for the Game” was written by Jessie Pope to encourage young men
to fight. This was basically propoganda; it exploited the idea that
it was a young man’s duty to go and fight for their country. This is
apparent in the first two lines of the poem; the author makes us feel
that war is not excruciating pain, but “just a game”...

“Who’s for the game, the biggest that’s played”, “The red crashing
game of a fight”. These opening lines make us feel that war is a big
game, and fighting is just people playing games to enjoy themselves,
therefore this portrays the idea of war as being enjoyable, almost
like a pastime. When people read this poem it makes them think
subconsciously that war is enjoyable. Jessie Pope also promotes
patrotism by saying that going to war is “giving your country a
hand”. “Who’ll give his a country a hand” she appeals to their
passion for fighting their country, over their fear of being killed.
There was such an affinity with patriotism that by reading just this
one line would make men join the war because they wanted to help their
country. Jessie Pope also feels that war is like a big show and that
the people staying at home are merely the audience, and not being part
of this show, i.e. not playing a part in leading their country to
victory. “Who wants to turn to himself in the show?” and “Who wants a
seat in the stand”. Jessie Pope thought of war as a mindless riot and
the only motivations for men going to war was to shoot someone and
hold a gun, this is shown when she wrote “yet eagerly shoulders a
gun”. The writer thinks that men would want to come back with a
crutch, or some injury, as this would be their ‘souvenir’ from the
war. She thinks that every man would want an injury as evidence of
their bravery/suffering, rather than lying in the trenches and being
out of the so-called ‘fun’. Jessie Pope also thinks that men who
have returned unscathed from war didn’t have any fun; she thinks wars’
are all fun and games. “Who would much rather come back with a
crutch than lie low and be out of the fun” “Your country is up to her
neck in a fight, and she’s looking and calling for you”. This is a
subliminal message that audience will rise to the challenge. Perhaps
this is not an appropriate style of communication to describe war.
The repetition of the word “who” followed by a question; she is
questioning the audience and in the finnal two lines of the poem she
tells us, who this “who” is. It is a direct appeal to you, the
audience. She uses this direct appeal to the audience to emphasise
in these two lines, the emphasis is on war being every man’s duty.

She personifies the country as being feminine, as it is every man’s
duty to protect or save their women. It is also therefore every man’s
duty to protect their country; thus making them a hero. Throughout the
poem she uses simple language, that everyone can understand, to appeal
to a widespread audience. The poem is written so that the reader
feels Jessie Pope is actually speaking to them, and therefore has an
immediate effect. (As the poem was published in the Daily Mail, it
would have been read by thousands of people). The tone of the poem is
positive and seems like an idealistic adventure story, which is
totally opposite to the realities of war. I feel that when men read
this poem they would be by her patronising and threatening powers of
persuasion. They would feel manipulated into feeling guilty for not
“doing their duty”. The poem would probably have been read with a
buoyant, upbeat tone of voice. I feel that the writer was naive about
war and felt that she could explain war without actually experiencing
it. As war progressed, the feeling of patriotism gradually
diminished, as the death-toll was escalating daily, people came to
realise that war was not all glorious and began to take in the
realities. It was harder to comprehend the ideals of patriotism and
duty when soldiers were returning with their true accounts of what had
actually happened, and poetry was written to explain war and how it
really is.

One of the soldiers who became a poet was Wilfred Owen, who died on
the front line one week before the end of the First World War, on 8th
November 1918, at the age of 20. “Dolce Et Decorum Est” was writtten
to express his account of the events he actually witnessed and
experienced. He talks about the harsh realities of war, this is
illustrated in the opening lines, “Bent double, like old beggars under
sacks, knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge”. The
use of similes serves to convey the graphic reality of the soldiers’
experiences. He goes on to talk about how committed men were, and also
how brave they had to be to survive their horrific predicament. He
talks about how men had to “walk asleep” and also how they had to
“limp, bloodshod”. He also tells us how men went deaf as a result of
the continual gas-shell explosions. According to him, the shells fell
softly behind, because the soldiers were actually unable to hear the
full impact, as they had become so used to them. “Men marched asleep,
many had lost their boots, but limped on, bloodshod”, “all went lame,
all went blind, drunk with fatigue, deaf even to the hoots of
gas-shells dropping softly behind”. Repetition of the word “all”
highlights the large number of men who died... He also speaks about
how unexpectedly things happen, like the gas-shells exploding, and
also how important it was to be constantly on guard. Wilfred Owen
writes that a man was unable to put on his helmet and started
“floundering”, and this word is usually used to describe fish who are
out of water. He describes a man “drowning under a green sea” he uses
the colour green because the air was full of gas. When reading this,
the images conjured up are shocking and horrifying. Wilfred Owen also
describes how he saw a man dying in front of him, because he had not
put on his gas mask. He using strong verbs, such as “drowning” and
“choking” to show the full impact of what is happening. “His hanging
face, like a devil’s, sick of sin, if you could hear, at every jolt,
the blood come gargling from the forth-corrupted lungs, obscene as
cancer, bitter as the cud”. These four lines describe the man who
had just died – he uses words such as devils, sick of sin to say that
the man’s face was worse than the devil’s sins, and he saw the blood
come “gargling” to emphasise that it was coming out of the dying
soldier’s throat. Wilfred uses an incurable disease, like cancer to
describe the offensive nature of battle, to give the audience
something to relate war to; I think that Wilfred Owen is trying to say
that war is incurable once started, and nothing can be as bitter as
cud, and therefore war is also the bitterest thing. The last four
lines of his poem is apparently addressing Jessie Pope, as he wants to
shame propagandists such as her; he feels that war is not glorious at
all, quite the contrary. Do not tell children for some glory the old
like that war is a glorious thing. Do not tell your children about
war with such high enthusiasms, because it is nothing to be
enthusiastic about. “My friend, you would not tell with high zest to
children ardent for some desperate glory, the old lie, Dolce Et
Decorum Est Pro Patria Moris’ the title links with the end of the
poem, translating as “sweet and right to die for one’s country”

‘The Call’ written by Jessie Pope is very similar to another poem I
have studied, because she uses the same persuasing and patronising
tactics as ‘Who’s for the Game?’; She uses repetition of questions and
quotation marks as some sort of rhythm for the poem, asking retorical
questions to ‘laddies’- which has a direct appeal to young men. And
repeats colliquial expressions throughout the poem. Questioning who
may join the war.

‘Who’s for the trench- are you, my laddie?’

She has made the tone very bossy and seem like its rounding the
readers up and putting them on the spot and pressuriing them for an
answer. She compares the personalities and attitudes of soldiers- war
is for anyone and everyone; ‘Who’s fretting to begin, Who’s going out
to win? And who wants to save his own skin’

‘Who’s for the khaki suit- Are you, my laddie? Who longs to charge and
shoot-‘ this makes war sound attractive and appealing, like it has
something to offer you.

‘Who’ll earn the Empire’s thanks’ she is using bribery to persuade the
audience, using temptation to menipulate them, and is insisting that
there are so many reasons to join rather than not to join.

‘Disabled’, was written by Wilfred Owen after he escaped the claws of

‘He sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark’ the poem is being told
from someone elses perspective, but what is being said could have only
been from Wilfred Owen’s past and what he is thinking or remembering.
So this suggests that whomever is ‘talking’ is perhaps Wilfred but he
doesn’t feel like he knows who he is, or is refusing to believe what
has happened to him. He is waiting for the night time, to sleep,
which translates as him having nothing to live for, which makes the
reader feel pity for him.

‘Legless, sewn short at elbow.’

His legs were blown off by a bomb, and he aso lost his forearm,
legless is a word we usually assosiate with being drunk. This makes
the reader feel shocked and they think of what it must be like for him
being so deprived of life. Although Wilfred was lucky to escape from
death, he had evidence to prove he was a survivor of World War I and
should think of himself as lucky to be alive.

‘Voices of boys rang saddening like a hym, Voices of play and pleasure
after day’ this quote has lovely uses of simile and alliteration to
explain how he hears memories speaking too him, because the memories
are all he has left to blame for his losses.

‘Till gathering sleep had mothered them from him’ by using this
emotional verb, he is giving sleep a personality, and ‘she’ lovingly
takes these memories from him and lets him forget things he’d rather
not relive in his mind.

‘About this time Town used to swing so gay, when glow lamps budded in
the light blue trees,’

He is looking back to the good times, which the adjectives illistrate
for the audience. ‘And girls glanced lovelier as the air grew dim- in
the old times before he threw away his knees.’ He uses alliteration
when he remembers how attractive the girls were. He is blaming himself
for his disability, and contrasts to how depressed he is feeling.
Although it does make the reader feel sorry for him, they realise that
at least he has good memories aswell as bad.

‘Now he is old; his back will never brace, he lost his colour very far
from here;’ the experiences of war and it resulting in his disability
have aged him quickly as he has lost the colour to his face and his
life; he cannot find anything to be positive about.

‘He asked to join. He didn’t have to beg; smiling they wrote his lie;
aged nineteen years.’

The shortness of his sentences shows how he regrets it now, but at the
time he was happy to join up, because he was willing to lie about his
age, unaware of the things that would suffocate him at war.

‘To–night he noticed how the women’s eyes passed from him to the
strong men that were whole. How cold and late it is! Why don’t they
come and put him to bed? Why don’t they come?’ He is complaining and
feels rejected by the women, because they aren’t interested in him as
they were before. He complains that he is old before his time. The use
of quotation marks make the reader think, because what is being said
is being aimed directly at them- this makes it similar to Jessie
Pope’s poems’, although, Jessie’s poems’ are very
similar in their ‘prep-talk’ theme and encouraging tones , Wilfred
Owen has written poems in very different situations, but in both of
them his intention was to shame progadists such as Jessie Pope and
send out the truth of war to the world.

I have learned that people have who have not experienced war should
not encourage men to join up for example Jessie Pope shouldn’t explain
something she has not experienced. When men such as Wilfred Owen came
back and described their experiences of war this fickle feeling of
patriotism was diminished for good. People were in disillusioned
through this propaganda. Although the propaganda was a neccessity
otherwise men would not have joined up for war.

I prefered the poem written by Wilfred Owen about his disability. This
is because I reflected alot of my Dad’s accident into what Wilfred
was going through, as it just links with how my Dad must have felt
trying to adjust to a new lifestyle, and also because his Dad was in
World War II. I like the way the words illistrated his environment and
how he was feeling, and the way the stanzas were structured to the
ends of sentences and how he used rhyming slightly randomly.
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