War and poetry have always been closely linked to one another. Poetry was used to criticize certain people or events. Jingoistic poetry in the war ridiculed those who didn’t fight and hailed those who did. One of these writers is Jesse Pope. Her poems were negative and positively based. In her poems she glorifies the war in such a way that she makes the young men overeager and treats them as heroes this also reassures their families that nothing can go wrong. Between 1854 and 1856 the Crimean War was fought. Europe was on one side (which mainly consisted of England, Turkey and France) and Russia on the other.
The war began when Russian Orthodox monks claimed to right to control religious sites in Jerusalem and Nazareth which enraged the French Catholics. Tsar Nicolas I of Russia demanded the right to protect the holy land and moved his troops into Wallachia and Moldavia, which meant that they belonged to Turkey. Many mistakes were made which meant that there were a lot of meaningless deaths. The fact that Britain and Russia were suspicious of each other before the war only added fuel to the fire that had quickly started.
The war began in March 1854 and the French and British soldier had forced the Russians out by the end of the summer. The Russian naval base Sevastopol was decided to still be a potential threat to the armies despite the war being over where they were. In early 1856 Sevastopol fell and the war ended. Around 2000 men had died out of roughly 250,000 men who were called to the fight. Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) was a poet writing in the Crimean War. He also attempted to write drama’s or plays but had no real success.
Tennyson was the fourth child out of eleven, his father, George Clayton Tennyson who was a rector and a vicar and maybe his religious background influenced the way he composes metaphors and similes in his work by referring to religious places and beings. He went to school at Trinity College in Cambridge. Tennyson was completely tone deaf so his poems were in blank verse as he couldn’t follow conventional rhyme schemes.
A lot of his poems had been about the war but he had never been in one which meant he had to rely on other sources e. g. he times magazine to give him the information about the war he needed which meant that he could not have the experience from the war which led him to rely on other peoples accounts and opinions to form his own opinion of it. The jingoistic poems during the war made the wars seem like there were no casualties, that we couldn’t lose, and to reassure the people back home of this. One of the poets who used this Jesse Pope who focused on making the war sound less dangerous, make the soldiers sound heroic and to encourage young people to join the army and ‘fight for queen and country’.
She ridicules the men who are able bodied but chose not to fight, even though she had never been to a war and relied on written reports to base her points. These poems working the glorification of the war lead to unnecessary acts of heroism from soldiers. World War one started in 1914 and ended in 1918, it involved a lot of the world’s big powers, the Allies against the Central Powers which meant 70million people took part in one of the most lethal wars in history.
Roughly 1 in 4 of the male population were in the war, and considering the age restrictions for men to fight, these numbers meant that all ‘capable’ men fought in the war also many volunteers fought because they knew someone fighting in the war, as at the beginning of the war there was a lot of enthusiasm about it. More than 15 million people were killed in the war. World War one had a great technical advance as, now, many countries now held weaponry capable of killing numerous soldiers and citizens at one time.
World War One was the first war where ‘chemical weapons’ were used for example, the Germans used gas to kill whole trenches of soldiers. Wilfred Owen refers to this multiple times during his poem ‘Dulce ET Decorum Est’. They had also developed armoured and motorised vehicles whereas in the Crimean they would have used horses or travelled on foot which is very slow and very dangerous in a war zone also the guns had also advanced to faster firing and more powerful weapons.
People could communicate almost instantly and from far away. A poet writing during the time of World War one was Wilfred Owen (1893-1918). Owen served in the war as oppose to Tennyson who didn’t. Owen believed it was his duty to fight even though he didn’t want to. In May 1917 he was near a shell explosion and was then evacuated to England in June to be treated for his ‘shell-shock’. Whilst in hospital he met another poet of the time called Siegfried Sassoon. Around this time he wrote a lot of his most famous pieces.
All of these things influenced his later works, all of the horrific things he had seen culminated in him writing about the true horrors of the war. In 1918 he rejoined into the war and was killed crossing the sombre canal at Ors just a week before the end of the war. One of Wilfred Owen’s most famous poems is Dulce et Decorum est, it was posthumously published in 1920. The earliest surviving manuscript is dated 8 October 1917 and addressed to his mother, Susan Owen, with the message “Here is a gas poem done yesterday, (which is not private, but not final)”.
The poem was originally dedicated to Jesse Pope but was soon changed to suit a wider audience. The poem’s full Latin title is ‘Dulce ET decorum EST pro patria mori: Mors ET fugacem persequitur virum, NEC parcit inbellis iuventae, poplitibus timidove tergo’ which translates to ‘it is sweet to die for the homeland, but it is sweeter to live for the homeland and sweetest to drink for it’, These words were well known and often quoted by supporters of the war near its inception and was of particular relevance to soldiers of the era.
In 1854, Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote the poem ‘Charge of The Light Brigade’ (COTLB). In COTLB, Tennyson writes about the hierarchy of war as the order given to charge was a mistake, “someone had blundered”, the fact that this mistake was so large meant that this battle had so much attention back home, which meant he kept the blame off of the soldiers specifically. Tennyson explores the true horror of war by including lines like “… jaws of death… ” and “… mouth of hell… , ‘hell’ brings across the religious upbringing, and it also gives the poem an atmosphere of pride. Another technique he uses is personification to show that the soldiers are actually running into the ‘jaws’ of death and ‘mouth’ of hell. “Honour the charge they made… “, he uses the word ‘honour’ as a way to directly instruct you to honour these brave soldiers. Wilfred Owens poem, Dulce ET Decorum EST (DEDE) has 3 stanzas of the same length except the final stanza where there are four extra lines to conclude the poem.
DEDE uses alternate rhyming couplets. The poem make use of iambic pentameter and iambic rhythm which makes is sound more natural by mimicking the naturally stressed and unstressed syllables in human speech to make the poem seem more real and engage the readier in the battle. Tennyson’s TCOTLB uses a stanza structure where the longest stanzas are in the centre of the poem because this is where the battle takes place, so he uses a lot of descriptive phrases.
The last stanza is the shortest, he is almost directly addressing the readers but he does not use second person pronoun which is generally used to directly address and instruct people. Tennyson does not follow typical rhyme schemes as he was tone-deaf and couldn’t follow them. The rhythm of TCOTLB is dactylic which makes the stressed and unstressed syllables mimics the sound of the horses galloping into battle as well as the battle itself which engages the reader and makes them feel like they are a part of the battle. In stanza one, Tennyson describes the soldiers preparing for battle.
He shows the honour and heroes of war by putting in phrases such as “… Into the valley of death. ” He personifies death as a real being which again, could be his religious background coming into play, it also puts across the idea that they knew of the consequences but the war had been so glorified by jingoistic poetry which make the younger soldiers overeager to get into the battle which resulted in many deaths.
Tennyson shows the charge of the soldiers on the first line by using repetition of “half a league, half a league, half a league onward… By repeating a distance, it makes the battle feel more real as having distances in the poem makes the whole thing more real, furthermore imitates the charge of the men and steeds marching towards the ‘valley of death’. In the second stanza, Tennyson uses direct speech to make it feel more real ‘forward, the light brigade! ‘Tennyson uses elision to keep a regular beat within the lines. This creates a sense of familiarity with the reader and gives the poem a natural rhythm. He repeats words and phrases to keep a regular beat in the poem.
Stanzas two and three use a lot of personification like ‘into the mouth of hell’, using mouth makes it seem monstrous and devil-like by using hell, which could be there as a result of his religious background, another example would be ‘into the jaws of Death’, by using jaws, it makes it feel grotesque; also, capitalising death makes it sound like a place or name which might be used to frighten the many religious men and women of the era. In stanza one of Wilfred Owens ‘Dulce ET Decorum EST’ he uses first person plural pronoun to remind the reader that he was actually there in the war.
He uses similes like ‘bent double, like old beggars under sacks’, this helps to portray the true horror of war and to open the eyes of the audience back home. He uses caesura a lot to emphasise what he is writing, it also breaks up the piece and imitates the sound of the marching soldiers. Like in TCOTLB, Owen uses personification ‘Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs’, using the word haunting makes the war sound horrific and frightening even to the soldiers, also turning their backs on the haunting flares shows that, in a war, you can’t win every fight and you sometimes have to turn your back even if you don’t want to.
Owen uses personification to describe the ‘disappointment’ of the shells that missed the soldiers, this also shows the bloodlust in a war, and also makes the enemy more of a person as oppose the Tennyson who makes them out to be ‘things’, and deliberately dehumanises them. Stanza four is the longest of all the stanzas in The Charge of The Light Brigade because this is the climax of the fight after the build up of the first stanzas where they are preparing and moving towards the battle area. He uses dynamic verbs like ‘Flash’d’, ‘Sabring’ and ‘Charging’, which adds the drama of battle and detracts from reality.
In this stanza he uses third person pronoun which, in the middle of the fight makes the soldiers sound even more heroic. Stanza four is extremely descriptive as it has the main part of the poem to cover. ‘All the world wondered’, this involves the people back home and is exciting for them. By using ‘an army’ as oppose to men or soldiers dehumanises them and reassures people back home. Another way he does this is by saying ‘reel’d’ instead of dying which make death sound better than it actually is. The beginning of stanza five is a repeat of stanza three, which shows the progress of the soldiers through the battle.
It also ‘frames’ the big fight in the middle which reminds us that they are now retreating from the battle, this is also put across when he uses the same structure for a metaphor but twists in around, in stanza three it says ‘into the jaws of death’ but in the fifth stanza it says ‘come thro’ the jaws of death’ By putting in these phrases he makes the soldiers sound even more heroic because at the start of the poem, he made the fight out to be an impossible victory but now it sounds as though they cheated death.
In the second stanza of Dulce et Decorum est, the pace increases as the soldiers fumble around to try to fit their gas masks with people dying all round them, this also deliberately breaks iambic pentameter which was used throughout the poem with ‘GAS! Gas! Quick, boys! ‘ and when the dying man is seen by the poet, his indifference exposes the fact that this is war and this happens constantly and people back home should know that. The only thing the writers shows for the man is disgust for horrendous state he was in.
Owen uses an asyndeton list to show what happens to him, ‘He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning’. In the final stanza of The Charge of The Light Brigade, Tennyson talks directly to the reader. He does this by asking rhetorical questions to be answered by the reader, which will make the reader feel more involved in the poem. He also uses imperative verbs to instruct the reader like ‘Honour the charge they made! ‘ He restrainedly forces respect and honour for these soldiers, which would make the
In the same way to The Charge of The Light Brigade, Owen is directly addressing the audience although in his poem he uses second person pronoun to blame the audience for the deaths of these soldiers and for listening to the jingoistic poetry. Owen portrays the true horror of war which therefore directly attacks the jingoistic poets of the era. In the final four lines of the poem he concludes his poem. He sums up by explaining what propaganda does to people and the effect it has on war.
On the last two lines he uses a Para rhyme “Dulce et Decorum est, pro Patria mori” which confronts the jingoistic toast of the time, it also slows the poem down to finish. In conclusion, Owens poem is there to address jingoistic poetry of the time and put across the idea that war is not all glory and heroism whereas Tennyson is trying to honour the troops for obeying orders and fighting for queen and country. Charge of the light brigade is a poem for entertainment purposes which is exactly what Wilfred Owen is trying to criticize and change.