War Poetry Analysis

War Poetry Analysis

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War Poetry Analysis

There are many different approaches to war in the poetry I have read.
Some are very jingoistic and strongly encourage conscription. They use
a wide range of colloquial language and often use puns to play on the
emotions of the reader and make their poems more interesting. A good
example of a poem of this type is, "Who's for the Game?" by Jessie
Pope. This kind of war poetry has often been criticised by other poets
with a more serious and realistic view to war. One of the most famous
war poets, Wilfred Owen has a completely different approach. Having
been a soldier in the war, his work was greatly influenced by all the
death and suffering he had experienced. This gives a less idealistic
view, based more on fact, not encouraging people to enlist. The third
poem I have chosen shows a more modern opinion particularly to nuclear
war. It is completely different to both of the other poems I have
chosen because it is about a slightly different issue. It is also very
anti- war but unlike Owen it does not dwell on death and fear but
tells us how quickly the world could end.

"Who's for the Game?" is completely different to "Dulce et Decorum
est" and "Icarus Allsorts" as it takes the totally opposite approach
to war by encouraging people to enlist and is very positive about the
whole idea of war by portraying it as, "The red crashing game of a
fight." Jessie Pope uses rhetorical questions to make the reader
examine their conscience and draw them into the poem by asking them,"
Who'll tackle the job unafraid?" and "Who wants a seat in the stand?"
This plays with the readers emotions and makes them feel guilty if
they do not want to go and fight for England as it "is looking and
calling for" recruits. The poet gives a very idealistic view on the
soldiers injuries by saying," Who would rather come back with a crutch
than lie low and be out of the fun?" when we all know that this would

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War Poetry Analysis Essay

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not be the case and that far more serious injuries would be obtained
during battle. I find this poem both naïve and above all, very ironic
as being a woman, Jessie Pope had no idea of what war was like as she
had never experienced it. All she knew was that Britain was
apparently, "up to her neck in a fight."

Jessie Popes' use of colloquial language is both persuasive and at the
same time quite amusing as she portrays war as a game, and this is
almost laughable in its own right as everyone knows that war is most
definitely not a game and I pity the people who enlisted after being
inspired by this poem as they were seriously mislead! The poem has
good rhythmic quality and is easy to read so it would appeal to any
person of any age or class. I think Jessie Pope aimed the poem at the
younger generation who could be easily influenced by war being
portrayed as a game. They would not know any better as they would most
probably never experienced war or know anyone who had so they were
relying on a naïve and ironically minded woman who had as much
knowledge on war, if not less than they already did! This a very
optimistic poem that could very easily have a great effect on a mans
ego by making them think about how they would feel if they had a seat
in the stand or didn't have the chance to come back from war as a
glorified hero and were made to feel like a coward by their families
and friends.

"Dulce et Decorum est" portrays a very pessimistic yet more realistic
view of war by describing how "Bent double, like old beggars under
sacks, knock- kneed, coughing like hags" they trudged through the
sludge. I feel that Wilfred Owens account of what war was like is a
far more reliable source than "Who's for the Game?" as Owen actually
fought in the war so he would have known what it was like more then
anyone. Wilfred Owen is famous for his disapproval of poets such as
Jessie Pope who glamorised war by making it seem trivial and making
people feel guilty and a disappointment to their country for not
wanting to fight.

Owen produced a more realistic portrayal of the injuries that could be
obtained during war. He informs his readers that death during war is
not glamorous or heroic. He talks of the man who "[drowned] under a
green sea" of gas. His death was by no means glamorous as it was slow,
painful and humiliating. He seems to be putting people off the idea of
fighting in a war by describing all of what seems to be the worst
parts instead of the best. He also mocks the idea that it is sweet and
wonderful to die for your country.

The poet describes war to be as "obscene as cancer." This is a far cry
from the fun game that war seemed to be insinuating by Jessie Pope.
Owen uses adjectives to express his views on war and seemed to be
greatly influenced by all the death he experienced during his time as
a soldier. This is the completely opposite approach tothe one taken by
Jessie Pope who seems to think that the worst injury to be sustained
during war would be to break a few bones and need a crutch. She seemed
to have no concept of the seriousness of war where as Owen did. I
think a lot of soldiers who have experienced the reality of war can
relate to "Dulce et Decorum est" as it is based on fact not fiction.

Wilfred Owens use of language had a great impact on me, the reader
when I read this poem as his use of vocabulary is shockingly bitter
and blunt. Even though I had no idea of what it would be like to
experience war, I already knew I did not want to when I read it. Owen
uses very negative words such as obscene, cancer, old beggars, hags
and many more to describe how he feels about war. The poem has less
rhythm than "Who's for the Game?" which immediately makes the poem
more serious and even though it does not rhyme, some of the lines are
very memorable for what they say, not how they are said.

Wilfred Owens use of emotive language is portrayed in a different
context to the emotive language used by Jessie Pope. I do not feel he
uses it to manipulate his readers the way Pope does; he is more of an
informative poet and does not manipulate his readers to make them
think the same as him.

"Icarus Allsorts" had a very modern approach to war favoured by
activists who demonstrated against nuclear war in the nineteen-
sixties. It has a strong rhythm and adopts the style of a nursery
rhyme which proves to be effective. The way in which the poet
expresses the true devastation and reality of nuclear war through a
nursery rhyme style had a great impact on me as a reader as it made me
realise that all our problems and woes seem so trivial compared to
nuclear war as it affects everyone on the planet no matter what
gender, nationality or religion. I like the way the poem describes how
"the king was in the counting house counting all his money, the queen
was in the parlour eating bread and honey" when the bomb hit and made
them all go "funny" and when it says," in the time it takes to draw a
breath." This proved to be most effective as again it shows how
quickly a bomb can hit letting no one escape. It also had a very
worthwhile and effective ending when it described how many people
would have been killed due to the bomb being set of at the touch of a

This poem differentiates immensely from "Who's for the Game?" as it
has a totally different viewpoint on war. The fact that both poems
were written at different times and about different aspects of war
also made it difficult to trace any similarities between the two! One
similarity I did discover between the two was that both poems have
titles that lack seriousness and fail to have any link to war in the
slightest. Icarus Allsorts was a man who built a wax aeroplane that
melted when he flew too near the sun, and everyone knew that war was
most definitely not a game. "Who's for the Game?" expresses an
optimistic and more idealistic view to war than "Icarus Allsorts" but
the rhythmic language i similar between the two. Pope's poem
encouraged people to enlist where as "Icarus Allsorts" stressed how
the world could end in the event of a nuclear attack. They are
different in a sense that "Who's for the Game?" strongly favoured war
when "Icarus Allsorts" was strongly against it. Both poets used very
different styles of writing to portray their views to the readers;
Roger McGough used strong colloquial language and a "flowery" style to
express his anti nuclear war views, where as Jessie Pope used less
colloquial language and a more idealistic style to describe her
optimistically minded views on enlistment.

I find "Icarus Allsorts" extremely ironic due to the misinterpretation
of the bomb being set off when it was actually a meteorite. It is also
very superficial compared to "Dulce et Decorum est" as it lacked
seriousness and fulfilment when compared to a poem written by Wilfred
Owen. "Icarus Allsorts" and "Dulce et Decorum est" have slightly
different contexts as Owens' is written about first hand experience in
fighting in a war where as McGough's is about the effects of nuclear
war from an activists view point. Both poets use of language and
structure of their poems are very different. "Dulce et Decorum est"
has less rhythm than "Icarus Allsorts" and stronger, more hard-
hitting adjectives are used to portray the image where as McGough uses
rhymes to make his poem more memorable. Owens more realistic portrayal
of war is opposed by McGough's nursery- rhyme style as it seems a very
trivial and disrespectful way to describe a far more serious matter
such as nuclear war as at least with a war such as World War two. It
is awful that so many soldiers died but the war itself did not wipe
out every living thing on the planet!

Overall, I feel I have benefited from my experience in studying war
poetry as it has made me more aware of the different styles and ways
in which poetry can be written and how poets can get their views
across by using methods such as making it sound like a nursery rhyme
in the style of Roger McGough or disillusioning the reader by saying
that war is one thing when it is actually another in the style of
Jessie Pope. I have a deeper understanding of this style of poetry and
wish to extend this knowledge further in the future!
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