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The Poetry Of War

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  • Pages: 12
  • Word count: 2936
  • Category: War

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We have read disabled by Wilfred Owen and two Scottish laments. These have shown us many things and ways in which war affects people. The way in which the writers express their writing also created a good atmosphere in which the theatre of war seemed right. Both of these poems show to us how war has been fought across time and how people cope with the tragedy of war. Although the poems are hundreds of years apart, they bear attributes that are mutual between them.

I will now show what I have found out about war from these poems and how they are different but also similar. Disabled by Wilfred Owen is a poem about the terrible aftershocks of war. The young man in the poem has been severely crippled by the effects of war and can no longer walk or do anything for himself without aid. I think this boy joined up for all the wrong reasons, like wanting to impress his girlfriend and look good in his new uniform.

It says in the poem “and soon he was drafted out with drums and cheers” he was treated like a hero when he went out to war, but when he came back he was only thanked by one “solemn” man who “inquired about his soul”. We can see that his reception from going out and coming back to and from war is so very different and the cheers and patriotism that sent him out were not there as he was greeted back home. We know that the young man had before the war so much on for him and to look forward to.

He “used to swing so gay … nd girls glanced lovelier as the air grew dim” From reading this we can see that the young man had many young girls after him and he had a good nightlife in and around the town. After he returns from war however, to girls touch him “like a queer disease” and this is a huge contrast to the time when girls glanced at him and fancied him. We can see that the girls who look after him feel uncomfortable with touching him, as he is limbless and apparently diseased, so they see it as unhealthy to do so.

This is a terrible aftershock of the war, because as well as being physically unable to move the young man, cut off in his prime has to deal with the mental strain of being treated unnaturally. The first thing that the young man hears is boys playing football in the park opposite and screaming playfully as they do so. This is described as “voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn, voices of play and pleasure after day” and we know that this is difficult for him because it sharply reminds him of his inability to walk or move without help, due to being limbless.

I think the imagery of that line is excellent descriptively as it portrays to us how the voices are so innocent and playful, but yet deeply painful for this man as he knows they are experiencing something he will never do so again. The imagery of the voices being a hymn is good also as we can associate this with funerals, the voices singing playfully but, to this man sounding hellish as they are painful to him. To anyone else they would be uplifting, but as people in funerals know, the voices are sad and painful. The second verse creates a brilliant atmosphere of how life was for this young man in his prime.

This line describes the picture brilliantly” when glow lamps budded in the light so dim and girls glanced lovelier as the air grew dim, in the old times” This creates a positive atmosphere, which sets up the verse for the next line, “before he threw his knees away, now he will never feel again how slim girls waists are, or how warm their subtle hands. This line is such a come down from the atmosphere of the last, it gives a more lasting impression of how terrible it is for the man to be limbless and how he cant enjoy his life as he did before the war.

Another thing we can learn about the war from this poem is that it shows us how all the heroics and glory of war is suddenly overshadowed by the terrible after affects after it finishes. This young man “was drafted out with drums and cheers” but was brought back by few cheers and a solemn man saying simply thank you. This shows how, at the end of the war, people realise that others have died and despite the war being over and that they had won, countless men and women have died and this could have been avoided. This tells us that however glorified war is, there will always be victims, and this young man is one of many.

I think that this poem also can teach us a lesson about war that is important too. We often forget when our countries go into war that there is another side to the war. There are just as many innocent people killed for the opposition and they deserve this fate as little as anyone else that fights. The line that tells us this is “Germans he scarcely thought of; all their guilt and Austria’s, did not move him. And no fears of fear came yet” This shows that we barely think of other people and opposition people when at war because we are so embroiled in the glory of winning war.

If you look in the 4th verse, we can see how this young mans reasons for going to war are somewhat misplaced and wrong. He says he went because “someone said he’d look a god in kilts… and to please his Meg (his girlfriend)” he says he went to please his girl and look good in uniforms, but as we know, this was all in vain as no one wants to touch him or look at him without his limbs. This young man also joined up too young, when he was just 16 or 17 but while he lied an said he was 18 the people who recruited him didn’t even question his age, in desperation for people who were willing to fight so they signed him up without question.

This shows us how desperate people can get when it comes to a war situation and what lengths people go to. A good example of the poems imagery is when it says “for it was younger than his youth last year, now he is old his back will never brace he’s lost his colour very far from here” This gives us an image of this young bustling boy changing in no time at all into a forlorn and depressive figure, much older than his age suggests.

Another excellent image produced by Wilfred Owens words is when he says “he’s lost his colour far from here, poured it down shell holes till the veins ran dry” There are quite a few ways in which this could be interpreted. One of these is that the blood has drained from his face like paint down shell holes, and this makes him look old and feeble. This is also because we know he has lost blood through the fighting. He never thought of Austrians or Germans, who he was killing, but just of glory and of looking good. This shows us that there are two sides to a war, and that there are no winners on the battlefield.

I think this man would be very unhappy in the state he was. It could have been more fitting ending to his life if he had died on the battlefield, where he would have been romantically remembered, but now he has to live with all his terrible memories of war and thinking about why he went to battle, probably regretting this terribly. I think from that, Wilfred Owen is trying to say that war means much more than bombings and fighting in trenches, it also goes on afterwards in the lives of all of those who suffer similar fates to the young man in the poem.

I also think he is saying that for all the passion and romance connected with war, it always comes out ending up with more people suffering than happy. I think some of the language used by Wilfred Owens creates atmosphere that shows what war means. A good use of language is the interesting 2nd verse in which Owen creates an excellent image of how wonderful the young mans life before the war was. He says, “When glow lamps budded in the light blue trees and girls glanced lovelier as the night grew dim”. I like this description as it creates an image of the mans nightlife which he enjoyed before Owen writes, he “threw away his knees”.

This is a gaping difference in the image, from a man enjoying company of Ladies in the night, to a disfigured man in a corner, with no limbs to fend for himself with. I also like the last few lines in the third verse “and leap of purple leaped from his thigh” it is said in a pleasant way because the words are so innocent, but if you perhaps read it again, then you realise that this leap of purple is this man bleeding or being shot, the reality of the war hits you. Another example of the use of language is when Owen says, “now he will spend a few sick years in institutes, and what things the rules consider wise and whatever pity they may dole.

To-night he noticed how the woman’s eyes passed form him to the strong men that were whole. ” This sums up this mans feelings, the subtle language showing us how he feels as women pass him by with looks that suggest this man is inferior to the strong men who have their limbs next to him. The last lines shows up the young mans terrible state and this phrase could represent his need for attention and makes him seem uncared for. His expectations of ‘salutes’ now mean nothing. He feels worthless and used. Lament for Flodden is the poem which describes the after effects of the butchery suffered at Flodden.

The other side butchered all the men who were in battle, in pure cruelty. This left the village of Flodden left with no men who went valiantly into battle, and the women left devastated with no men to talk to or love. I think the first thing you notice about the poem is that it has a very sad and slow rhythm. The repeating of the line “the flowers of the forest are all wede away” creates a muted affect because it saddens the mood after every verse. The line also means several things; firstly that someone has scythed down all the beautiful flowers in a forest instead of the weeds.

Also the image of an evil coming a scything down these men is showing to us the point of view that the battle was a slaughter and the men were unable to defend themselves, much like the innocent flowers of the forest. In the first verse, the writer says, “I’ve heard them lilting, at ewe time a milking lasses a’ lilting before dawn of day” but this is soon turned into “now they are moaning, for all time lamenting” in this, lamenting is crying or weeping and this tells us the that the ladies were crying and moaning at milking time, which was a time which much competition and fun might have been had.

This shows us how much the death of loved ones has effected the ladies. In the second verse, it says,” nae lads are scorning” I think this is sad because the lads aren’t scorning as there are dead, and there is no scorning between ladies and boys, which may have been annoying then, but how much these girls want this to be back as it was.

It also says in this verse, “lasses are lonely and dowie and wae nae daffing, nae dabbing but sighing and sabbing” I think this is a good representation of the war because it shows us how much these young ladies have changed from after the war, because their loved ones are dead and they have nothing or no one to be gabbing (gossiping) about. I also think that crying and sighing, summing up the aftermath of the war, have replaced the sounds of gabbing and daffing.

In the final verse, it tells us that “in har’st at the shearing, nae youths now are jeering, band stars are wrinkled and lyart or grey” this tells us that there are no youths jeering, presumably causing trouble because they have been cruelly killed, and that all the men left are lyart or grey- that the best young men have been taken away by this war. This maybe gives the suggestion that these old men should be the ones who have died, not men who have most of their lives laying in front of them, and in doing this, it has ruined the lives of the whole people of the village.

Part from all of this, I think the last thing that you can say about this poem is that it makes a more subdued and subtle effect by repeating the line “the flowers of the forest are all wede away” this gives it a saddening rhythm and is a constant reminder from Jane Elliot of the butchery suffered at Flodden. The second lament, lament for Culloden is written in the third person and describes the thoughts and life of the lass o Inverness after her father and three brothers are killed in battle.

It says that “nae joy nor pleasure can she see” and this is clearly due to the fact that the death of here relatives clouds everything else in her life. And we can see her terrible trauma as “for e’en morn she cries alas! And ay the saut tear blinds her ee” we can see that she is clearly distraught and can’t see due to the flooding of her eyes. This tells us the terrible effects of war and how much they hurt after the battle as well as in it. But in this poem, it also tells us of the terrible day of the battle, whereas in the other poems, it focuses on the after effects of war- “a woeful day it was for me!

For there I lost my father and brethren three. ” In the second verse, Robert Burns uses alliteration to create a more interesting poem’ their graves are growing green to me” I also think that this could mean that she thinks their graves are grass in the field that they fell, and this could also mean that she thinks the graves are disrespected as they are being allowed to overgrow. The next line, I think is very powerful because she says” and next to them lies the dearest lad that ever blest a woman’s ee! She is also sad here because she can see lots of other people who have died and in them she can see dozens more who suffer because of it.

Another thing that this poem can show us about war is the ways in which different people take out their sadness and anger after losing things such as loved ones, and the lass of Inverness takes it out one God saying “a bluidy man I know thou be” this saying that if you can take all these peoples lives then how can you be good? The last line sums up war very well because the people who die, die for their country but don’t deserve it-“for many a heart thou hast made sair that ne’er did wrong to thou or thee”

I think the main thing that these poems have in common, is that they all show us the after effects of war and how they affect people afterwards. I also think there are feelings of bitterness in each poem, the man in disabled bitterly regretting going to war and being cut off in his prime, the ladies in lament for Flodden being downhearted at the fact of no young men to talk to and in the last lament, the lady of Inverness is bitter towards God as she felt he did nothing to stop innocent men being killed.

One other way in which the poems are similar, is that they all involve young people being hurt or sad. They all portray how bad war can affect young people the worst as people with their life ahead of them can be killed. There are many things which differ in these poems however, one of these being the difference in the ways in which the people in the poems are effected. In the first poem, the young man is effected by he can’t walk or do anything for himself, in the second poem the ladies rue the deaths of the men through moaning and crying and the last poem shows a more angry side which can happen.

To conclude, these three poems show us a variety of what people experience during war. It shows us many emotions and feelings which people experience after the war and how they deal with it. I think each of these gives us pointers to why people go to war and how people’s opinions of war change when it affects them. I also believe that each of these poems teaches us valid reasons why not to go to war and why any type of conflict is bad.

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