In World War 1 Britain had a small army and they needed to get men to join up, they did this mainly by using recruiting poems, which appeared in newspapers and music hall songs. In the recruiting poems the poet usually uses either street language, catchy rhythm, simple rhyme scheme and easy to understand and remember. In my essay I will look at some pro-war poems and see how they are countered by the anti-war poems of Wilfred Owen. The first poem that we looked at was a pro war poem by Harold Begbie called Fall in. In this poem the poet does not mention the bad things about the war e. . that you could get killed.
The poet focuses on the good points and says that it is good to go to war he said “But I went, thank God, I went? “. He also mentions if you don”t go what will happen he says “With a girl who cuts you dead” he tries to shame them. The second poem that we looked at is another pro war poem by Jessie Pope it was a poem used to recruit people in World War 1, the poem is called Who”s for the game?. The poet has no idea about war, she thinks war is just a big game, she starts off by saying “Who”s for the game, the biggest that”s played”.
Games are usually meant to be fun but she must think that the war is just fun and games, but it is not. Jessie Pope also compares war to a show she says “And who wants a seat in the stand? ” this also shows that Jessie Pope has know idea about the war. The country is compared to a female in the poem so that it will make you feel sorry for it. What also shows Jessie Pope”s lack of knowledge about the war is she says “who would much rather come back with a crutch than lie low and be out of the fun” this means that the worst that can happen is that you would come back with a broken leg when actually you could die.
I am now going to look at three anti-war poems by Wilfred Owen called Dulce Et Decorum Est, Disabled and Exposure. I am going to comment on what he says about war, the first poem I am going to look at is called Exposure. Wilfred Owen says at the start of Exposure that the soldiers need to be awake at night incase people attack, he says “Wearied we keep awake because the night is silent”.
He also describes the atmosphere and also makes people feel sorry for the soldiers by comparing wind like soldiers stuck in barbed wire, we know this because he says “Watching, we hear the mad gusts tugging on the wire, like twitching agonies of men among its brambles”. Wilfred Owen describes the weather as war he says “We only know war lasts, rain soaks, and clouds sag stormy” I think that this either means that you can”t stop the war or that they know very little about the war.
In the beginning of Exposure Wilfred Owen uses sibilance”s by using lots of S”s this increases the effect and makes the poem seem more sharp and cold, he says “Our brains ache, in the merciless iced east winds that knive us”. He also uses personification to increase effect, he describes the whether to a person by saying “Pale flakes with fingering stealth come feeling for our faces”. Owen also shows how pointless the war is by saying “what are we doing here? ” he also shows that war is very boring and that nothing ever happens by saying “Worried by silence, sentries whisper, curios nervous But nothing happens”.
He says that bullets are less deadly than the snow by saying “Sudden successive fights of bullets streak the silence. Less deathly than the air that shudders black with snow” in this sentence he also uses alliteration and in the poem he describes the whether as mainly being more deadly than the snow. Wilfred Owen makes us pity the soldiers by saying that they always worry about the next day and he uses a very moving word which is “poignant” he says “the poignant misery of dawn begins to grow”.
The poem that I am going to look at now by Wilfred Owen is called Disabled it is a moving poem about a boy who got disabled in the war he lost both his arms and his legs Wilfred Owen is trying to say what war can do to you. We know that he has lost both of his arms and both of his legs because it says “Legless, sewn short at elbow”. The poem shows what the disabled boy used to be able to do and it makes people feel sorry for the boy, it says “Through the park Voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn, Voices of play and pleasure after day”.
Wilfred Owen also talks about how everything used to be when he wasnt’t disabled he says “About this time Town used to swing so gay When glow-lamps budded in the light blue trees, And girls glanced lovelier as the air grew dim, In the old times, before he threw away his knees. “. Wilfred Owen also tries to make us have pity for him when he says about what the disabled person used to be able to do when he wasnt disabled and he describes him as a strange disease he says “Now he will never feel again how slim Qirls waist are, or how warm their subtle hands;
All of them touch him like some queer disease. also when Wilfred Owen is comparing his old life to his new life it makes the whole war seem pointless because the disabled persons life has been ruined because he used to be able to do so much things and now he cant do anything just because of the war. In Disabled Owen blames the boy and his friends for what happened to himself because it was his and his friends fault that he joined up because he lied about his age and he wanted to join up we know this because it says “Smiling they wrote his lie; aged nineteen years.
Germans he scarcely thought of; all their guilt”. In Disabled Owen tries to shock the readers with graphic descriptions for example when he says “Now, he is old: his back will never brace: He’s lost his colour very far from here ,Poured it down shell-holes till the veins ran dry” these are effective because they give the reader an image of what could happen to them if they joined the war. The last poem I am going to look at is called Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen.
In the first section, British soldiers are leaving the trenches after an exhausting span of duty and Owen compares them to old beggars by saying “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks”. In the second section there is a gas attack, Wilfred Owen makes the gas attack seem real for the readers by using detailed descriptions and he also describes the atmosphere he says “Dim, through misty panes and thick green light, As under a green sea, I saw him drowning” also seems real because he describes it as if he was someone in the gas attack.
He also uses an excellent description when he sais “as under a green sea” because it means that there is a lot of gas. I think Owen was successful in his aims in some ways because a lot of people didn’t sign up for the war when they read his poems because his poems describe what the war was like but a lot of people still joined up for the war. His poems were so powerful because of his use of language and brilliant his choice of words.