This sample essay on Who’s Who Game provides important aspects of the issue and arguments for and against as well as the needed facts. Read on this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
“Who’s for the game? ” is a recruitment poem that was written by Jessie Pope to persuade men to enlist for the First World War. She composed ‘crude war verses’ for the Daily Mail, and was particularly detested by wartime poet, Wilfred Owen. In one of his poems, “Dulce et Decorum Est,” Owen uses direct address to poets like Jessie Pope, and for this reason I am going to compare and contrast these two very different styles of poetry by two very diverse authors.
“Who’s for the game? ” was written at the beginning of the war and consequently was written in Georgian style, as was a lot of the poetry of that era.
The poem consists of four, four-line stanzas with a,b rhyming scheme, which gives the poem added rhythm.
This ‘sing-song’ approach ties in with the ideas the poem holds, about war being a ‘game’ and a ‘show. ‘ These similes were commonly used in wartime propaganda as a way of encouraging men to sign up, to make war seem almost appealing. The last line of each stanza is almost mocking – Pope being not able to believe that men could be so ‘cowardly. ‘ Historically, during this period of time women were very involved in convincing men to join the army.
For example, women would present men with a white feather, as a symbol of their cowardice.
Women like this, women like Jessie Pope inflamed not only Wilfred Owen, but other war poets as well, and therefore the style of “Dulce et Decorum Est. ” differs vastly. Wilfred Owen’s poem was written after poetry dramatically changed in style, as a side effect of the war. Poems before this change seemed derisory in comparison to the war poetry that told of the horror and the huge scale of sacrifice, instead of the ‘glory’ and ‘honour’ in dying for one’s country.
Wilfred Owen’s poem consists of three stanza’s, with an alternating rhyming scheme, which shows the regularity of death during war. Although Owen does specifically write about one man he saw ‘drowning’ in the sea of gas, Owen does not glorify death, because thousands of others died. Owen does not name this man, and this anonymity does not glorify war, this man could be one of several thousand who died this way. In comparison to Jessie Pope’s poem, there is no rhythm, no song in Owen’s writing.
Owen’s poem is full of stumbling, fumbling, tired, hopeless, dying men. He is writing about a ghastly scene of war and of a man drowning in poisonous gas. If there is music in Owen’s poem, it is a dirge for the dying. In “Dulce Et Decorum Est”, Wilfred Owen reacts to the war by turning conventional poetic technique into something that appears to be normal on the surface but in reality is tainted and corrupted. Owen’s break from the conventional poetic form serves to symbolize the breakdown of society’s value system – a system that had been trusted for many years.
Owen also breaks from the pretty language prevalent in the poetry of his day to show his society the awful images of real and not romantically heroic war. Finally, Owen juxtaposes the idea of war as devastating and the idea of war as heroic to illustrate the poem’s ultimate irony – “Dulce Et Decorum Est, Pro Patria Mori” In “Who’s for the game” Jessie Pope writes in a conversational manner, to spread her jingoistic attitude to anyone and everyone. Her use of simple, colloquial language makes this poem easy for everyone to read and therefore appeals to all of the different social classes of that day and age.
The poet’s patriotism shines through in every line of the poem, and the use of slang influences many people. The use of this universal and familiar language was essential for this propaganda to be successful. The animated language and enthusiastic tone, for example ‘who’ll toe the line for the signal to ‘Go! ” is almost uplifting and spurs the reader on, giving the reader some of the energy that the poet obviously had when she wrote the poem. “Dulce et Decorum Est,” differs from this because it almost drains the energy and life from the reader.
Owen uses more formal, metaphorical and complex language and paints a very vivid, horrific picture of a man dying. The candid, frank vocabulary Owen uses shows just how honest his account of war is. He uses phrases like ‘ecstasy of fumbling,’ and this emotive expression stirs feelings inside the reader, we can really picture these weary soldiers suddenly having to grope for their gas marks. Within her poem, Pope uses many questions, which involve the reader more, and, together with the use of everyday language give the poem a less formal feel.
She persuades the men to join the army by making them feel deceitful and cowardly if they were to ‘lie low. ‘ She also has a friendly manner in her propaganda poem as she refers to the men as ‘lads. ‘ The first three lines in each four-line stanza are all about the heroism and eagerness that each man should feel, while the last line is a cutting remark about the cowardice of men who would not sign up. Pope has written this poem in four quatrains with a regular rhythm and rhyme scheme, which makes the poem more memorable.
This is also a technique employed in children’s poetry and as such trivialises her subject matter. Only the last stanza is different, instead of questions to her readers, Jessie Pope summarizes her ideas and makes the poem appeal to men as individuals, in the final line ‘.. she’s looking and calling for you. ‘ The biggest writing technique that Jessie Pope uses is in her metaphorical language, comparing war to a ‘game,’ – ‘the biggest that’s played. ‘ This disillusioned idea exhibits the attitude towards war that woman and children had, back at home in England.
Pope continually uses comparisons throughout the four stanzas of the poem, and some onomatopoeia in ‘crashing’ and ‘grip. ‘ She utilizes only these very simple poetic techniques because her poetry was written when poems were not so “adventurous,” they simply got their message across. However, Owen’s poem is not like this at all, he uses a variety of poetic techniques to convey his shocking imagery. The use of similes, ‘like a devil sick of sin,’ and metaphors, ‘obscene as cancer,’ are all very descriptive and deplorable remarks, which shock the reader into realising the unpleasantness that soldiers were facing.
Owen also uses onomatopoeia, but to a much greater effect than Jessie Pope – for example ‘gargling,’ and ‘choking. ‘ Owen writes in a more formal tone than Jessie Pope, and in comparison to “Who’s for the game,” Wilfred Owen uses imagery to a great extent. There are four main image groups that run all the way through the poem. The first is that of sleep or dreams – Owen himself suffered from unspeakable nightmares as a symptom of shell shock, and this was reflected in his poetry. Illustration of this imagery are found in words like ‘haunting,’ ‘fatigue’ and ‘smothering dreams.
The next image group is that of drowning and helplessness; ‘floundering,’ ‘guttering, choking. ‘ On top of this, Owen uses imagery of un-coordination, which is really what gives the poem its almost twisted feel – ‘bent double,’ ‘knock-kneed,’ and ‘writhing. ‘ The final image group that Owen uses is senses, allowing the reader to feel, see, and hear what is going on. Owen writes ‘all went lame; all went blind;… deaf even to the hoots…. ‘ Wilfred Owen also shows us a small group of images, which are just ghastly pictures of war and occur largely in the last stanza.
In any case, all of the specific image groups work together and throughout the poem to show us a vivid picture of war. These images are utilized by Owen to show the ultimate irony and the moral of the poem; it is not in fact a “sweet and meet” fate to die for one’s country even though current writers of his day, like Jessie Pope were publicising it as something heroic. This irony is illustrated in a clever juxtaposition at the end of the poem. The men who enlist are ‘innocent’, they are ‘children’ who have learned that war is full of ‘high zest’ and this makes them ‘ardent for some desperate glory.
Innocent people are willing to believe the lie but they will, of course, learn differently once they experience the war first hand, and this is why Owen was so bitter towards Jessie Pope and other such war poets, because they had helped to convince men to effectively sign their own death warrants. Wilfred Owen makes an immediate separation between the dying soldier and himself. This is shown metaphorically. Owen refers to the sea metaphorically showing the strength of the ocean or in this case, the gas. He infers that you are powerless against the gas.
This is shown by ‘as under a green sea I see him drowning’. This stanza is showing the ease of death on the front. One shell of gas can kill a person in an instant and that soldier is powerless against it. The third stanza is very powerful and in it Wilfred Owen says he will never forget that moment and that the man can never be replaced. However the army generals use the men as pieces in a game, to them the soldiers are just cannon fodder, but in reality they are dealing with somebody’s life. This is why Wilfred Owen dislikes Jessie Pope.
In the final paragraph, Wilfred Owen takes an immediate shot at Jessie Pope by saying ‘you too could pace’ and ‘if you could hear’. It is trying to say that they should not be able to write about the war when they do not have a clue about the consequences of her poetry. Sarcastically Owen calls the pro-war poet my friend; this implies a fellow poet, Jessie Pope, rather than an actual friend. Being referred to as friend will not offend the pro-war poet yet it shows their responsibility to tell the truth and their adverse effect on the youth.
Jessie Pope’s poem “Who’s for the game? is a prime example of the persuasive propaganda written to encourage men to go to war. However poetically it is a very simple verse, and, to me, reflecting back on the tragedies that happened, it is almost nauseating to think that Jessie Pope was responsible for persuading men to go to war. In contrast, Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est,” is a startling first-hand account of a personal experience, and yet is “impersonal,” this man dying could have been anyone of the men who died during the war. For this reason I would conclude that in my opinion, Wilfred Owen’s poem is vastly superior to “Who’ for the game? “