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A few years into the war, there was a lack of recruitment and so
people started to print recruitment poems. These were designed to help
encourage men to sign up. These poems were successful and more people
signed up to fight, thinking that war is like a game.
Towards the end of the war, poets such as Wilfred Owen and Siegfried
Sassoon started to right poems about the reality of the war.
I am going to compare one of Jessie Pope's recruitment poems with some
of Owen and Sassoon's poems.
The recruitment poems portrayed images that indicated that war was a
fun game and that anyone that fought would make their families proud.
Some poems make people feel guilty for not signing up and would make
men ashamed if they did not join up to defend their country. Owen and
Sassoon had a different approach to the images their poems had, as
they were fighting in the war. They wrote about the truth of the war;
the terrible trench conditions and death. Their poems were meant to
shock people because they didn't know what war was actually like and
make men realise what they were actually doing, signing up to fight.
Jessie Pope's attitude to war was that all men should join up and
fight for the country and if men didn't, they were cowards. Her poem,
'Who's for the game?' was wrote as if she knew about fighting in a
war. She made everything sound like a game. She used a phrase that
would make people want to sign up by saying,
'Who would much rather come back with a crotch
Than lie low and be out of the fun?'
This is what a lot of the poems were about, trying to guilt people
into the war, but I think that I would rather be out of the fun than
come back without a leg or any other injury. The poem has been written
in a basic rhyming pattern, with alternate lines rhyming.
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"The Differing Attitudes of War Poets Showed to World War One." 123HelpMe.com. 28 Feb 2020
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'Who's for the game, the biggest that's played,
The red crashing game of a flight?
Who'll grip and tackle the job unafraid?
And who thinks he'd rather sit tight?'
This was used because it was simple and effective. This meant that the
poem was very successful in doing what it was aimed to do.
On the other hand Wilfred Owen and Sassoon's poems were the opposite
of the recruitment poems. Wilfred Owen's poem 'Exposure' describes the
coldness of world war one waiting in the front line for an enemy
attack. It describes how the soldiers felt in the trenches, in winter.
Soldiers were day-dreaming, only to wake up to find someone dead with
their eyes frozen open. The verse that this is in starts with
alliteration to make it sound worse, 'Tonight, this frost will fasten
on this mud and us.'
His other poem, 'Dulce et Decorum est,' was written to go against what
the recruitment poems were saying, has quite disturbing detail in it,
which is used to contradict what Jessie Pope wrote in particular, as
her poems annoyed him. The poem portrayed some horrific images,
'His hanging face, like devils' sick of sin'
'Of vile, incurable sores, on innocent tongues'
He used many horrific words to capture the real horror of the war and
create the worst images of the war as possible.
Sassoon also did not like the recruitment poems and the people on the
home front who keep telling people that war is heroic. The last verse
in his poem 'Suicide in the Trenches' is aimed at the people at home
that sit there and cheer at the soldiers, when they do not know
anything about war.
'You smug faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell and youth and laughter go.'
This also has a basic rhyming pattern, with rhyming couplets. This
would make it easier for the people at home to understand what Sassoon
meant. This poem also describes what goes through the brains of the
soldiers in the trenches; 'He put a bullet through his brain.' It is
simple and precise.
Jessie Pope, who wrote recruitment poems from the relative safety of
the home front, had no idea what happened at war. She thought that war
was a game. This is what angered Owen and Sassoon. I think they wrote
their poems, not only to recreate the horrific images of the war, but
also to show the recruitment poets that war was nothing like what they
had said. Owen and Sassoon wrote their poems to give people the truth
about the war. They felt the recruitment poems did not have any truth
in them and so they wanted to let people know the full story about the
life in the trenches.
Both types of poetry were very effective in what they had to do, but
in very different ways. The recruitment poets used certain words and
phrases to guilt the readers into signing up or making regret not
signing up. The images in owen and Sassoon's poems, however, were
realistic and portrayed images of horror, to make recruitment poets,
such as Jessie Pope, realise that war is not a game.