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World war 1 poetry - Essay Example

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It is clear that poems are heavily influenced by the perspectives of the authors themselves regarding the objective conditions that they are in. This is the reason why, in order to fully appreciate the relevance of a poem, it would be necessary also grasp not only the verbal subliminal meaning of the lines but also the historical context in which these were written. …
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World war 1 poetry
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Download file to see previous pages Historical context is a compelling factor in a poem. Two poetic works may be dealing with the same issue or subject but these may differ when it comes to handling because these are based on different historical context. This is a fact that is very obvious when the poems of the early years and those of the later period of World War I are compared. During the early stage, the poems were still filled with idealism, particularly one that centers on the necessity of the war. The early World War I poems did recognize the reality of death but it also handled this subject in a very positive manner. A clear example of such poem is Charles Sorley’s All the Hills and Vales Along which has lines that say “sow your gladness for earth’s reaping / sow you may be glad, through sleeping / strew your gladness on earth’s bed / so be merry, so be dead” (257). However, the poems written during the later years of the war no longer glorify death and sufferings as noble sacrifices in a necessary and just war. Instead, what are highlighted in the said poems are the physical and emotional pains suffered by the combatants as they continue fighting a war they gradually came to misunderstand. Death is no longer portrayed in heroic terms but rather as a matter of fact in war. An example of this is The Leveller, which is written by Robert Graves. Those who write about wars best are the very people who are engaged in it. In this regard, it is the men fighting in the front who can describe most accurately the normal human reaction to combat actions. Being soldiers themselves, the poets took a more introspective approach to the war they are fighting. Those who wrote poems at the early period of World War I, when death and destruction were not yet worse focused on glorifying the war itself. The poems were most calls to action and justifications of their respective country’s participation in the war. The message of lines like “In our heart of hearts believing / Victory crowns the just, / And that braggarts must / Surely bite the dust, / Press we to the field ungrieving, / In our heart of hearts believing / Victory crowns the just” from the poem Men Who March Away (Hardy) were common. Apparently, the lines dealt with the issue of death but if this is not glorified as a heroic inevitability, it is associated with the fate of the enemy. However, as the bloody fighting lasted for years and as both sides started to realize that the war only brought about pain and suffering, the poems too began to focus on death and destruction and treating these in ways less than noble. However, while it may be true that the focus of the poems display the differences in perspectives regarding the justness and nobleness of the war as it developed, most of these points out to the inevitability of death and destruction. The poems written in the early years also pointed out that death is inevitable but these also presented death as a necessity. From the perspectives of the Allies, from which side the poets belong, dying in the fight is heroic which accounts for the encouraging lines “So sing with joyful breath, / For why, you are going to death” (Sorley). At the early stage of the war, when the soldiers were themselves bombarded with exhortations to fight valiantly and the public awash with propaganda on the justness of participating in it, the poems too reflected the general sentiment. These also painted the war positively, making it noble ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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