Compare And Contrast The War Poems With Other Poets English Literature Essay
The first poem where you are able to see the theme of realism occurring throughout is In the Pink. This poem is clearly able to portray the theme of realism through the language that is used. Such as ‘To-morrow we trudge up to the trenches, and my boots are rotten.’ This shows what it was actually like to be fighting during the war in the winter. The word ‘trudge’ conveys weariness; they are not marching up to the trenches but plodding with boots that will not keep out the cold and mud. There is some bitterness concerning this poem, as it is about the reality of war and what the men had to put up with. Furthermore you could be in perfect health, but the war could wipe that away from you.
Another poem that is going to be analysed is A Night Attack. This poem has irregular line length and no rhyme scheme. This can be seen to reflect the war, in the way that war is disjointed and haphazard. Yet again Sassoon employs colloquial language ‘The bloody Boshe has got the knock’, this is how the soldiers spoke and this reiterates how the poems of Sassoon are first hand accounts and are vibrant descriptions of the war. The imagery that Sassoon uses such as “sundown” aids in heightening the mood of the poem. In addition the sensual imagery, for instance “I smell the battle”, Sassoon is referring to the stench of the rotting corpes and the smell of gunpowder and mud and by alluring to the senses again it gives the poem that realistic feel.
The next poem that will be analysed for the theme of realism is A Working Party. The initial thing you become aware of when reading this poem is that there is no rhyme. Sassoon does this on purpose as he wishes to hint to a more realistic feel as this allows the poem in a sense to become less romantic and if Sassoon uses too much rhyme then it might seem contrived. An additional technique that Sassoon uses to make his poems more realistic is the use of vivid imagery, such as ‘Only he heard the drum and rattle of feet stepping along the barred trench-boards.’ However Sassoon doesn’t only describe what the soldiers are doing, he also writes what they speak, for example ‘“keep to your right-make way!”’ This use of speech makes the poems more realistic and interesting. By using colloquial language for instance ‘A decent chap’, Sassoon is able to let the reader understand what soldiers were like.
The poem Counter-Attack is another example of Sassoon using realism to depict his experiences of war. Weapons in poetry are usually spears or shields but Sassoon writes about the ‘Lewis Gun’ which is seen as un-romantic. Once more you are able to see throughout all the poems that have been analysed, colloquial language has appeared. In this case the phrase ‘Get busy’, plus, which hasn’t been used is World War 1 jargon- “Stand-to and man the fire-step”. This is the call that would be shouted for the men to get ready for an attack. Another example where Sassoon uses the language of the poem is “O Christ”; this is used here as swearing and is informal and colloquial. It is an expression of agony and fear and would probably have been heard all along the trenches.
After reading Sassoon’s poetry one could deem that Sassoon had a negative view of war and that his poetry isn’t just telling us what happened but the reasons why war is horrific. By showing us war’s true colours, Sassoon is asking us as readers to undergo the same belief to help us try and understand what he and thousands of other men had to endure. Sassoon’s poetry can be read in different ways through the eyes of different people; such as a new historicist. “These verses…..are by intention, realistic pictures of battle experiences, and indeed one does not doubt their truth.” During this era there weren’t just soldiers writing poetry as a realist, poets such as Rupert Brooke and Robert Graves can be seen as romanticists.
Robert Graves, though being very close to Sassoon contrasts with him as he can be seen as a romanticist. The first poem of his that will be discussed is ‘The Last Poet’. The first line reads ‘The bugler sent a call of high romance’; the bugle can be seen as the call of the fallen and the call of high romance is to die and fall in battle. Already it is clear how diverse the language used by Graves is and how he is unlike Sassoon. The repetition of ‘lights out!’ is to emphasise the dead and how death is such an immense part of war. The subject of Sassoon and Graves’ poetry is alike it’s just that the content is different.
One more poem of Robert Graves’ which is to be discussed is ‘A Dead Boche’, which is a German soldier. To get a clear idea of the difference between Sassoon and Graves, the first line of this poem reads ‘To you who’d read my songs of War’; Graves is talking of his poetry, the language is very different to what Sassoon would write. Another example of this is ‘shattered trunk’; here Graves is talking of shrapnel. Graves uses the phrase “‘War’s Hell!”’, this is a cliché and would never be seen in Sassoon’s poetry. The last two lines of the poem reads ‘Big-bellied, spectacled, crop-haired, dribbling black blood from nose and beard.’ This is quite shocking imagery and is spattered with contempt. This whole poem is satirical and cynical. Graves’s poetry in a way contradicts what Sassoon writes, as they oppose what the other states.
The final poet to be discussed is Rupert Brooke. Rupert Brooke’s sonnets have been praised as being “among the supreme expressions of English patriotism and among a few notable poems produced by the Great War.” The first of Brooke’s sonnets to be examined is 1914: Peace. Already it is clear that as it is a sonnet Brooke is romanticising something un-romantic and portraying an idealised vision of the war. The first line of the poem reads “Now, God be thanked who has matched us with His hour.” Brooke is saying that God has given this generation an opportunity to be great and that when ‘cometh the hour, cometh the man’. It is saying that war is a good thing as it turns the average man into hero; he is praising and glorifying war. This nationalistic poem is in favour of war, “Leave the sick hearts that honour could not move, And all the little emptiness of love!” Brooke’s is saying that men who did not enlist are cowards and that he feels contempt for them. By romanticising war, Brooke is even able to make death fearless. “Where there’s no ill, no grief, but sleep has mending” sleep is a cure for everything, even fatality.
The ultimate poem to be discussed is 1914: Soldier. Again Brooke is romanticising something that is un-romantic. Furthermore it is once more a positive view of war and he portrays a very naive nature towards the start of the war.
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