How did poets in the early stages of World War 1 seek to glorify war and present war as worthwhile
‘Who’s for the game’, ‘The Soldier’, ‘In Flanders Field’ and ‘Rendezvous’ are four poems that I feel are apt examples of typical poetry written in World War 1. Poetry throughout this period of time, share similar qualities of which I hope to explore further, one of these qualities is the recurring theme of the glorification of war. The themes of early war poetry tend to same themes that reoccur in most poems. These themes are glory, honour, duty, patriotism and a united front against adversary. All four poems seem initially different, in tone, language, and writing techniques, but all glorify war.
I intend to explore how the different writing techniques used in the poems portray the same message, and how their poem glorifies war in its own way. World War 1 was the first major war to affect Britain’s people and the urgency of recruitment for the war created influence for many poets who were opinionated about the war; the result was extreme propaganda poetry. Many of these poets later changed their approach to writing due to the tragedies of war, and although the poems are more reflective and respectful, they still promote war as a worthy cause for the understood tragedies.
The war also created many poets, soldiers who use poetry as an outlet for their thoughts these poems were usually brutally honest, reflective very emotive. Then towards the very end of the war poems became to bare the truth about war, poets found the deaths were to great to justify the glory of them. The poems depicted horrific images of war and mocked people who had previously glorified war. In the early stages of war, poet’s attitudes towards war were positive; many thought the results of war would outweigh the suffering that would occur during.
This was due to the fact they had not experienced anything like this and did not know what to expect. They expressed this attitude in the poetry written. Many poets felt very patriotic towards England and felt England had come together to fight a common cause this is reflected by the use of patriotic imagery and language. Poems like ‘Who’s for the Game? ‘ and ‘The Soldier’ make the patriotism a poignant aspect of the poem, whereas rendezvous and ‘In Flanders Field’ are reflective and sentimental and display patriotism.
‘Who’s for the Game? does this by use of its ordering tone, guilt and shame tactics to persuade the reader into thinking the same and in turn feel more patriotic towards England. ‘Who’ll give its country a hand? ‘ the repetitive use of who’ll/who creates an interrogating tone to coincide with the rhetorical questions. ‘The Soldier’ creates similar feeling but in a different way, it does it by the continual use of the personification of England. ‘A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,’ the dust being the soldier, English man, and England personified as its mother.
In this first few years of war realism was sparsely use in poetry war was depicted as an event that would change a man for the better and horrendous truth of war was forgotten this point is made known in all four poems but prominently shown in ‘Who’s for the Game? ‘ by Jessie Pope. An example of this is the running metaphor depicting war as a game. Its attitude about war is very optimistic for England’s soldiers and that would be hardly any loss from the war.
All poems written at the start of the war although influential in themselves were influenced by the desperate need for people to enlist this encouraged A vast amount of forceful propaganda poetry that used extremely powerful writing tactics to persuade the reader to join beyond any logical reasoning. Although the majority of poetry written at the start was propaganda there were some reflective and sentimental poetry however even these poems contained underlying propaganda to get people to recruit.
Who’s for the Game? ‘ is a typical extreme propaganda poem it’s forceful in its approach, using imperative and declarative sentences. This sense of goading the reader combined with glamorisation and undermining of war creates a much enhanced propaganda poem, although logically contradicting in the sense that if the war were as glamorous as its portrayed it would not need to be forced upon the reader.
‘Rendezvous’ on the other hand is not as obvious in recruiting people but was probably effective in doing so. Rendezvous’ continuously personifies death, linking death with nature creating the image of death as a friend and a natural and peaceful occurrence. This is propaganda in a subtle way as it shows death as something that shouldn’t be feared therefore war shouldn’t be feared if the worst that can happened is death, this is a theory that was present throughout ‘Who’s for the Game? ‘ and is a very unrealistic and misleading point of view on war. ‘In Flanders Field’ is more of an introspective than propaganda poem respectfully attributing those who have died.
Yet, it establishes the conflict and hatred towards Germany; ‘Take up the quarrel with the foe’ asking people to fight for those who died. This places guilt on the reader and creates more seriousness. It also has a relaxed atmosphere of the dead speaking as if death was a worthy sacrifice, a theme that runs through most early war poetry whether the poems are propaganda, respectful or pensive. The use of language and the form and structure differs from poem to poem but contributes to the overall effect and tone of a poem. ‘In Flanders Field’ the form of the poem has a constant rhythm and rhyme.
Each line has eight syllables apart from the twice repeated line ‘In Flanders Field’ which has four; this makes this line stand out in contrast to the rhythm of the rest of the poem as this is an important line. There is fluctuating rhyme pattern the main rhyming sounds in this poem are ‘O and ‘I. This makes the poem flow more and creating a familiarity within the text and establishes links between lines. ‘The Soldier’ a patriotic thus persuasive pro war poem is also emotive and a tribute to the soldiers. This respect and love for England is shown through the form of the poem, the poem is a sonnet commonly used for love poetry.
It consists of 14 lines but is split into eight lines and six by the rhyme as it changes after the eighth line signalling a slight change in context. ‘Who’s for the Game? ‘ consists of four stanzas and has a constant 1,2,1,2, rhyming pattern to concur with the statement sentences and commands. ‘Rendezvous’ has a structure of three stanzas each stanzas progressing in idea and length from the last. In the need to be so influential and persuasive early war poetry are lined with writing devices that accentuate the main themes they try to get across to the reader.
Such writing devices were rhetorical questions to interact with reader and create an informal relationship between the reader and writer. To shame and persuade reader to recruit guilt tactics were used. Scare tactics to show realities of war, later in WW1 era. Each poem has used different writing devices and in different ways to harmonize with the themes and style of each poem. ‘The Soldier’ and ‘Rendezvous’ both use personification throughout their poem; ‘Rendezvous’ personifies death as a friend, and ‘The Soldier’ personifies England as a mother.
They both also use repetition of a main word that is important to the theme and motives of the poem itself. ‘Rendezvous’ use of the word death accustoms the reader towards it ‘The Soldier’ achieves the same effects by repeating the word ‘England’ so as to familiarise it as a friend. ‘Who’s for the Game? ‘ uses hyperbole to exaggerate and a continuous metaphor of war a game to glorify war and represent it as fun and it exaggerates the supposed glamour of the war. it also uses forceful shame and guilt tactics.
‘Who’ll give its country a hand? making the reader feel more patriotic through guilt and a sense of obligation that they have to be patriotic. ‘And who thinks he’d rather sit tight? ‘ shaming the reader who hasn’t joined yet implying that there missing out and makes them feel wrong for thinking they shouldn’t go to war. Like in ‘Who’s for the Game? ‘ ‘In Flanders Field’ uses guilt tactics but for a more emotive result ‘If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow’ its up to the reader to join the war for those who died so they did not die in vain.
It also frequently uses a linking imagery of poppies and the dead soldiers and the poppies symbolise remembrance making the poem more reflective and stirring. Rhetorical questions were used in many war poems and ‘Who’s the Game? ‘ uses rhetorical questions almost all the way through as mentioned earlier rhetorical questions are used to interact with the reader and help the reader connect and relate with the contents of the text in turn the writer will persuade the reader to share the same view point.
The rhetorical questions used in ‘Who’s for the Game? are used to interact with the reader but also used in a style of interrogation this gives Jessie Pope control over the reader making his views (glorification of war) valid to the reader; so the reader responds and is influenced by them. After reading all four poems I have a general idea of the style and motivations of typical early poetry I have come to the conclusion that it is not just the poems itself but the way the writer use writing methods to manipulate the reader into thinking the same way.
It is therefore the interpretation that these methods insight that causes the response it does; influencing men to recruit. All four poems were similar in theme, and the motivation to inspire people to enlist by glorifying war or applying a sense of obligation and pressure on their target audience, young men. It is in my opinion that the more abrupt style of poem like ‘Who’s for the Game? ‘ would have been more influential on the reader at that time as it question the man as a person and is so aggressive it would of been hard to dismiss at the time under the circumstances.
In retrospect, it would not be as influential now as people are not as patriotic. Poems with a more emotive tone as ‘In Flanders Field’ and ‘The Soldier’ contained propaganda promoting war but as it wasn’t very prominent so may of influenced many without them feeling as manipulated as they would with the more extreme poems. The emotion in ‘Rendezvous’, ‘The Soldier’ and ‘In Flanders Field’ made me inclined to feel the emotion also. The glorification of war was revealed by the poem by the overall language, tone, form and structure of the poem.