Studying war poetry from around the 1914 period has given me an insight into the variety of feeling and emotion going on during the war, from writing strictly in propaganda to obscenely crude it seems incredible what the soldiers were tricked into, and went through. Both poems, ‘Who’s for the game? ‘ and ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ were written during the First World War, which began in 1914. ‘Who’s for the game? ‘ Is a war poem based on a rugby game, written as if war is simply something to pass the time.
The poet, Jesse Pope, has a crude way of writing: as she hasn’t herself experienced war, she simplifies it. In comparison, ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ was written by Wilfred Owen who had been to war and writes about a tragic gas attack that he personally did experience. The tone in ‘Who’s for the game? ‘ is persistent and rhetorical; repeating the word ‘who’ bullies the young boys into making a radical decision about going to war and if they don’t want to go, ‘who thinks he’d rather sit tight? ‘ creates pressure, suggesting not going to war is cowardly.
The tone carries on insistently and repetitively putting stress on the question, and on the last word of each line – ‘hand? ‘, ‘stand? ‘, ‘gun? ‘, ‘run? ‘. The insistence seems impossible to resist, like a constant drum beat inside the soldiers minds making the soldiers feel like they have no alternative but to go to war. ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ has an accusatory tone; this tone is directed mockingly at “my friend”, particularly in the last stanza. The poet’s anger builds and the use of the direct and accusatory tone excels.
The poet gives his description impact by speaking in the present tense – ‘guttering, choking, drowning’, this gives a sense of immediacy and desperate warning to the soldiers to believe the happy stories of war. The language in ‘Who’s for the game? ‘ is crude as the poet has never before experienced war: she creates a false image to young, nai?? ve boys of what war might be like. The poet has a target audience of young men similar to Wilfred Owen’s poem though he tries to put across to true image of war.
Wilfred Owen uses powerful imagery to describe the horror of the war, ‘guttering,’ giving images of a candle about to flicker out. He uses the image of a devil ‘like a devil’s sick of sin’; the soldiers are sick of sin but ironically devils should never be sick of sin. Similes used near the beginning of the poem such as ‘bent double like old beggars under sacks’ suggest that the soldiers are now on the fringes of society. In theory the soldiers should be young and brave, but Owen reduces them to old, forgotten about “hags”.
In ‘Who’s for the game? ‘ Pope uses an enthralling rugby game to describe the war, to her readers. This quite contradicts Owen’s views that war has made the soldiers old like ‘hags’. The two poems have quite different messages. ‘Who’s for the game? ‘ has a clear propaganda message as it tricks young, nai?? ve men into thinking war is something its not, whereas Wilfred Owen has a definite anti-war message, conveying the truth to men and soldiers that have been in, or are considering going to war. The town poems are very different in their form.
Jesse Pope uses a very regular rhyme and rhythm: a strong beat is felt particularly at the end of each line, emphasising the patronising question words to the soldiers. The last beat falls at the end of the last stanza on ‘you’ as if the poet is physically pointing their finger at the juvenile solider or reader. This is very personal and direct. In contrast to this simple poem, Wilfred Owen’s is quite complex. It does have rhyme such as “sacks” and “backs” though in between lines 1 and 3, is ‘sludge’, slowing the poem right down, these awkward sounding consonants conveying an onomatopoeia effect.
In the second stanza lines 1 and 3, and 2 and 4 rhyme, though 5 and 6 don’t creating struggle as the poem doesn’t flow, again emphasising the struggle and nightmares of the soldiers that are intruding on the present. Both poems had a very strong and powerful though different impact on the reader. In ‘Who’s for the game? ‘ we feel angry and frustrated at Jesse Pope for giving the soldiers a false illusion of what war was. Being young and nai?? ve the young men still look for guidance and this sort of poetry we feel is unethical.
In comparison, ‘Dulce et De Corum Est’ makes us feel encouraged that someone was fighting for the truth to be told. The fact that the soldiers were only young and nai?? ve was clearly recognised and emphasised: ‘children ardent for some desperate glory’ Wilfred Owen had the true picture of how wrong Jesse Pope was to spread poems full of lies. However, the reader does finish the poem feeling proud that young soldiers were prepared to fight for our country until they were no longer able.
‘Disabled’ by Wilfred Owen is an anti-war poem, describing in much detail the story of a naive, young man going into war to impress, unaware of the full detail of what he was signing up to, in fact throwing away his life. ‘Does it matter’ by Siegfried Sassoon, similarly, this is an anti-war poem putting across his views in a very patronising manor making his strong anger against war very clear. Where the poem ‘Disabled’ is a sad, detailed story, ‘Does it matter? ‘ is an angry, but simple poem, filled with sarcasm. Where ‘disabled’ subtlety portrays the anti-war feeling of the poet, ‘Does is matter? ‘ is again anti-war, but filled with the poets anger and fury.
Disabled uses heavy, detailed description to gain the audience’s attention, though ‘Does it matter? ‘ uses simple language in good writing techniques such as the use of clichi?? s and sarcasm in order to entertain and again get the audience listening. Both poets have a clear anti-war message, and both seem strongly against Jesse Pope, who wrongly, wrote poems about a war which she had never experienced poets such as Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, along with many others, aimed to convince the public that wars were far from “sweet and decorous”.
The mood of ‘Disabled’ reaches for the sadness and pity of the audience by going into great depth about a young soldier, where ‘Does it matter’ wastes no time in unmistakably putting across his outrage of trying to trick young, nai?? ve soldiers to the reader. The poem ‘Disabled’ changes the tense of the poem frequently, alternating from present to past to future, giving the reader full knowledge of the exciting history, sad situation the young man is in, and what destroyed future the man has ahead of him.
He is described presently as ‘legless, sewn short at elbow’ as if he is now not a whole human, not a real man. Ironically, he was ‘legless’ when signing up for the war: ‘when he’d drunk a peg, He thought he’d better join’, and on completing the job, he is now permanently disabled, and has lost the admiration he once had for signing up to go to war, ‘before he threw away his knees’ it ironically seems he intended to through them away, though now he is lonely and in self-pity as he has no legs and foreshortened arms.
The young man feels destroyed by the loss of his limbs, ‘the young man that were whole’ ironically, he feels emasculated due to him loosing his limbs. He will no longer ‘never feel again how slim girls waists are, or how warm their subtle hands;’ it seems he was extremely nai?? ve into what he was actually signing up to, which was in fact throwing away his youth and even life. Its almost a lifetime ago, as war has matured him so much, from the quote and that he had a girlfriend ‘his Meg’ it would seem he was popular with the ladies.
This would probably be due to his extremely good looks, ‘there was an artist silly for his face’ it would now be such a contrast, as all the colour and excitement has drained out of his life, ‘shivered in his ghastly suit of grey’, his life has gone from colour quickly to black and white. It would seem ironic, that he signed up to war to impress the girls, though now he is touched like ‘some queer disease’ by girls, he wanted to impress though he is now only being repulsed at and some are even quite afraid of him.
On going to receive admiration, ‘pity they may dole’ he receives none, only little pity. The young man was tricked into war by people such as Jesse Pope, and it can be easily understood from this why poets such as Siegfried Sassoon wrote with such power, and anger not holding back as they wanted the soldiers to know the real truth. ‘Does it matter? – loosing your legs? ‘ it seems for the young man in ‘Disabled’ it did considerably, ruined his life in fact. For people will always be kind’ Sassoon writes, we have learnt that this is definitely not always the case, as the man from war was felt he was touched like ‘some queer disease’ even though the simple reason he was in that state was due to him fighting for their country, putting his life on the line. He is described presently as ‘waiting for dark’ as if there is nothing to do but simply wait for death, drowned in his own sadness and blood, ‘a leap of purple spurted from his thigh’ when to impress was what he signed up for, what he received is something unimaginably different.
The insensitiveness and greed of the people left at home is more clearly shown in ‘Does it matter’: ‘need not show that you mind… others come in after hunting, to gobble their muffins and eggs’ there is a sense of ignorance and lack of sympathy to the injured coming back from war. When ironically, if the soldiers hadn’t of gone, the whole country may have been at risk, and the ones left at home would be unable to go ‘hunting’ and ‘gobble their muffins and eggs’. The poem ‘Disabled’ ends with repetition on the end of the last two lines, ‘Why don’t they come?… Why don’t they come? Calling out and emphasising to the reader the desperate situation the soldiers have landed themselves into. There is no longer anyone there for him, no one to look at him.
This once more, all agrees with Siegfried Sassoon’s poem ‘Does it matter’ ‘and people won’t say that your mad’ his strong sarcasm has backed up evidence after reading the story of ‘Disabled’. Sassoon writes mockingly at what comfort may be given ‘there’s such splendid work for the blind’ this is platitude, trying to make someone feel better, when really it is simply an empty comfort as how could that make up for ‘losing your sight’. Does it matter? ‘ also disdains the poem ‘Dulce et Decorum est’: ‘Do they matter? – those dreams from the pit? ‘ for the soldiers being described in this poem their sleep is far from dreams, its nightmares, phantasmagorical, re-living the times of the pit, as they are intruding on the soldiers present lives: ‘before my helpless sight, He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning’ having a horrific impact on the soldiers lives.
Both poems have a clear anti-war message, though where Sassoon’s has writes in a youthful idealistic way about war, Owen writes in a very satirical manor though has a serious moral purpose underneath with many other feelings and emotions attached such as bitterness and anger, disillusioning the reader. Where, the young man in disabled is a clear victim of Jesse Pope’s propaganda
Told it was like a game, similar to her poem ‘Who’s for the game’ the young man thought it would be like football, and the injuries were good, ‘a blood smear down his leg… carried shoulder-high, it was after football’ though war is no comparison to a game of football or even rugby as it was likened to by Jesse Pope the young man was robbed of his disillusions. The poem ‘Disabled’ has regular rhyming; each stanza has a different pace creating different moods for the reader.
For example stanza 4 has is quick paced showing the excitement in the young mans life before he went to war: ‘someone said he’d look a God in kilts, that’s why; he may be, too, to please his Meg;’ his life was so exhilarating and fast. This then contrasts to the present and future tense stanzas which are slow and don’t flow easily for the reader, particularly the last stanza which has no rhyming, this is difficult for the reader to read similar to what a difficult life the young man now leads.
Similarly the poem ‘does it matter’ has a very regular rhyming pattern, lines 1 and 5, 2 and 3 rhyme, the forth line always not. This creates what could seem a very simple poem for the reader to read, though it has a very complex meaning inside quite different to disabled, where most of the poets opinions are detailed, and on the surface. Adding to this, the consistent repetition of ‘Does it matter? ‘ at the beginning of each stanza brings obvious sarcasm, and the true effects of war on the soldiers.
From reading and analysing these poems I have become open minded about my view of the different poets forms of writing. At first I was extremely against the crude way of writing that Jesse Pope did, though I now release that if the truth had been revealed all along, there is a possibility no one would of wanted to fight and our country would have been quite different from what it is today. I thought the propaganda poetry, especially Wilfred Owens ‘Disabled’ was particularly emotional as the situation can still be related to today.