War Poetry Conflict
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Conflict is a main theme in war poetry as will be shown throughout this assessment. In ‘The Man He Killed’ By Thomas Hardy the speaker is a young soldier who has killed an enemy in the Boer War and is experiencing guilt and regret about his actions, as further on in the poem he considers him as a friend had they met under different circumstances ‘You shoot a fellow down You’d treat if met where any bar is’. The theme of the poem is about the man that the young soldier has killed. The poem is spoken in first person, suggesting the title should be ‘The Man I killed.’ Hardy has done this intentionally as ‘He’ could refer to anyone that fought in the war, which helps convey the futility of war and how it affects you emotionally. At the start of the poem Hardy presents war as jolly by being nostalgic about what could have happened if he didn’t kill the man.
‘We should have sat us down to a wet Right many a nipperkin!’ as he is trying to justify his actions to himself to put his mind at rest why he killed the man. In the 3rd stanza he uses repetition to explain to himself why he fought in war and shot a man. ‘I shot him dead because-Because he was my foe’ the hesitation shows self doubt and inner conflict. Hardy fought in the war for money no for any patriotic reason. This is effective as the reader sympathises with Hardy as he has to live with this internal torture for his forced actions. By having sympathy for Hardy we understand his deep regrets of war, which is mental conflict. The repeated words in the poem show internal feelings and he is sorry. ‘He my foe He my foe’ as he is trying to convince himself. The speech marks at the start and end of the poem makes it realistic and comes from the heart, which helps the reader agree with his point of view. He believes war isn’t right and only agrees with fighting for a personal reason not for money (like he did) or being forced to or fooled by propaganda.
The children’s rhyming scheme helps get his point across simply and effectively. Wilfred Owen also is anti-propaganda about war like Hardy as he presents this through his poem ‘Dulce et Decorum Est.’ In World War One Owen tells us the horrors of war from is life experience. He presents conflict that destroys lives physically and mentally. Young boys joined the war lied about their age and thought it would be great as propaganda fooled them. By referring to the boys as ‘old beggars’ it shows how war, conflict has completely changed their life and they have lost their youth completely which Owen is very angry about. The poem is describing a gas attack ‘come gargling the forth of corrupt lungs’ it presents the unglamorous life of war in the trenches. This is a shock to the reader as people didn’t know how horrid war was they were fooled by propaganda but this shows what young men had to go through. There language is shocking and gruesome as it is the truth about war not all sweet and how brave and honourable it is. ‘trudge’ is a onomatopoeia to emphasise how the pace was slow as the men have very little strength ‘drunk with fatigue’ the pace of the men links in with the pace of the poem.
This shows how healthy and fit men are extremely tired. The horrific language opens people’s eyes and informs them that propaganda is a lie that haven’t experienced or learnt about war. The readers in our day would find this upsetting as men had to experience it, even if they didn’t die at war they would come out with shell shock or terrifying memories and their life would never be the same again. The tone is bitter bleak and harsh showing thick verbal detail and absolute horror endured by the men who fought in WW1. ‘In all my dreams… He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.’ This shows Owens dreams are nightmares and is constantly happening. By telling the reader this memory the reader is emotional and feels for Owen. ‘vile incurable sores on innocent faces’ incurable is related to a scar and is there for life, like a memory of war permanent. Innocent is associated with children, so war take away their youth. Owen directly addresses the reader by saying ‘my friend’ ‘The old Lie’ this shows it’s not sweet and right to die for your country he is upset people have to fool for propaganda and is very angry. The capital L exaggerates that the lie is a destroyer of men’s lives especially the young men. Unlike Hardy and Owen Rupert Brooke is for propaganda.
In the Soldier Brooke romanticises war writing it as a sonnet. Throughout the poem he repeats the word ‘England’ this shows he is patriotic and believes you should die for your country. ‘blest by the suns of home’. The personification gives the effect that war is happy. Home is where the heart is so people should goes to war. Also ‘sun’ is yellow and yellow is a positive colour and friendship so war is good. ‘Blest’ is associated with religion and God so if God blesses war you should obey God and go. The conflict in the poem is positive as if they didn’t fight the country could be took over. Brooke also could have written this poem to make people at home feel good about their loved ones going to war. It will also inspire other people to join the war.
Brooke didn’t even make it to the battle so had no experience about war unlike Owen and Hardy so he is on the side of propaganda by fooling people as propaganda fooled him. The tone and language are happy as Brooke looks on death as honourable. ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ Alfred Lord Tennyson portrays the deaths of the Crimean war as noble and honourable like Brooke. He personifies death and emphasises the realities of conflict. ‘blundered’ the word blundered means stupidity mistake this shows the soldiers carried on even regardless. This is effective to the reader as it shows how brave the soldiers were. ‘mouth of hell’. This personifies conflict like a unavoidable creature, this links in to when many of the light brigade died due to someone ‘blundering’ maybe it was unavoidable. ‘ The valley of death’ makes the reader know from the start that men were going to die and shows the soldiers knew that themselves so this is effective as it shows the men as brave and honourable as from the start they knew they could die but didn’t show any fear. Tennyson didn’t actually experience the battle he read it in a newspaper, the newspaper would be read by many people and the government wouldn’t want England to know war wasn’t going so smoothly. This shows it was untrue what Tennyson wrote and is fooling people to join the war.