Attitudes To War And How

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Attitudes to war and how




Attitudes to war and how
they Developed


Wilfred Owen and Alfred Lord Tennyson both wrote well known poetry about war. Their poems were written in different centuries and they clearly illustrate the changing attitude to war
These three poems are all describing the ups and downs of war. The one author saying how war is such a great thing and how brave the soldiers were. The other author saying how terrible war is, illustrating the death and injuries. In Tennyson’s poem, because it was written earlier than the two poems by Owen, he describes more the glory and heroism of war, rather than the death and stupidity.
All three poems make you feel pity, even if it may be accidental, which I feel it is in Tennyson’s ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’
Let us look at Tennyson’s poem, he starts by using repetition. This is a good start as you feel the beat of the hooves of the soldiers’ horses and this continues through the whole poem.

‘Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward.’

Not only do you instantly feel the beat, but from the next line you feel you know a lot about the story line.

‘All in the valley of death,
Rode the six hundred.’

This is repeated at the end of the verse, which I feel is very effective, as I feel it emphasises the fact of the unbalanced odds and the soldiers’ imminent doom, which of course makes you pity them.
The second verse tells how the soldiers were so loyal to their country, that even though they knew they were in mortal danger, they didn’t question their superiors. The first line in this verse, is an order by the commander that suggests confidence in the troops.

‘Forward the light brigade!’

Further on in the verse repetition is used which illustrates the soldiers’ bravery and again their respect for their superiors.

‘Theirs’ not to make reply,
Theirs’ not to reason why,
Theirs’ but to do and die.’

In the third verse Tennyson again uses repetition describing the deadly position they were in.

‘Cannon to the right of them,
Cannon to the left of them,
Cannon in front of them’

This helps you understand what they were facing during this battle and how impossible their fight was. It makes you feel pity for the six hundred soldiers.
In this verse Tennyson glories in the soldiers’ bravery, saying:

‘Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of death,
Into the mouth of hell’

This means that by taking this mission they were practically committing suicide and it also, again, makes you feel sorry for the soldiers.
The forth verse tells, briefly, the story of the actual battle and how despite the odds the soldiers still attacked and made progress against the enemy.

‘Flashed all their sabres bare,
Flashed as they turned in the air,
Sabring the gunners there’

Here he again uses repetition; I feel this time it emphasises the bravery of the soldiers still attacking a helpless cause. Tennyson expresses the helpless cause further on the verse:

‘Charging an army, while
All the world wondered’

At the start of the fifth verse he again uses repetition to describe their position.

‘Cannon to the right of them,
Cannon to the left of them,
Cannon in front of them’
In this verse he again tries to show their bravery, with phrases like

‘While horse and hero fell’

and

‘They had fought so well.’

The sixth verse is a conclusion, commenting on the loyalty and bravery of the soldiers and how it was a tragic loss of life.

‘When can their glory fade,
O, the wild charge they made’

And he continues:

‘Honour the charge they made,
Honour the light brigade,
Noble six hundred’



In ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ Wilfred Owen tells a story of a death in the trenches from the memory of another soldier. It starts by describing the terrible state the soldiers were in, demonstrating against war.

‘Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like old hags,
We cursed through sludge’

A few lines down, it says;

‘Men marched asleep.’

And another similar line;

‘Drunk with fatigue.’

This is saying how tired the soldiers were and how badly they were being worked.
The next verse starts with panic:

‘Gas! Gas! Quick boys, An ecstasy of fumbling’

This verse explains the gas attack, the panic and the death of the unnamed victim.

‘And flound’ring like in fi

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