EA Mackintosh’s ‘Recruiting’ and Jessie Pope’s ‘Who’s for the Game? ‘ are both effective poems to look at when making a comparison between views of war in poetry, since there is definite contrast between the two. The primary difference is that Mackintosh’s poem is very much anti-war whereas Pope’s poem takes a pro-war stance. As the poems are so fundamentally different in their approach to the topic it is not surprising that the rhyming schemes and language employed are also different.
Jessie Pope’s ‘Who’s for the Game? presentation of war is quite different to that of Mackintosh, she is very pro war and does not regard it to be a life ending opportunity. With her poem she is actively trying to recruit young men, she attempts to do so by aiming her poem at the ordinary working classes, for this she uses everyday language. She writes in a conversational manner, which makes the poem more memorable and persuasive. She uses tactics in her poem to persuade men to join up; one of them is comparing the war to a ‘game’, implying that there is little danger on the battlefield.
She also refers to the war as a sport where a player would return with a minor injury such as a crutch. Within the poem, Pope uses many questions, which involve the reader more and together with the use of everyday language gives the poem a less formal feel. Her use of anaphora regarding the word ‘who’ allows the message to be stored with the reader and has a slight brain washing effect to it. She persuades the men to join the army by making them feel deceitful and cowardly if they were to stay at home. She also has a friendly manner in her propaganda poem as she refers to the men as ‘lads’.
She pressurises the men into joining the forces with her assumption that they will ‘come on alright’. Pope makes the country more appealing and dependable upon their support when she gives it a female gender. This capitalises on the sexist attitude of the era where men were expected to take care of and protect their women. Pope has written this poem in four quatrains with a regular rhythm and rhyme scheme. This makes the poem more memorable. The technique used seems to be similar to children’s poetry and as such trivialises her subject matter. This poem is a recruiting poem with the aim of encouraging men to volunteer to join the forces.
It was written at the beginning of the First World War and therefore the true disastrous effects of the war had not been experienced. Those left behind, women, children and exempt men, were often unaware of the true horror of the war and instead were seduced by a romantic ideal, this is what appears to have happened to Pope. Other poets and many soldiers, who saw her as typical of the unfeeling civilian who was supporting the war from the relative safety of the home front, particularly detested Jessie Pope, EA Mackintosh was one of these people.
EA Mackintosh’s ‘Recruiting’ is in total contrast to Jessie Pope’s ‘Who’s for the Game? ‘ It is a satirical view of the propaganda going on back home to an increasingly patriotic society. “Fat civilians wishing they could go and fight the Hun, Can’t you see them thanking God, That they’re over forty one? ” The simple almost jolly rhyme and rhythm help to strengthen the satirical view. Mackintosh’s poem has a dark humour to it, unlike Pope’s poem, and it focuses on the many negative aspects of war and the consequences of staying at home.
‘Girls with feathers, vulgar songs… , women at home would hand out white feathers to the men at home, like Pope women wouldn’t have much respect for healthy men not joining up for the war. Mackintosh, like Pope uses language which would be understood by everyone, he uses phrases the men would be used to “‘Lads, you’re wanted, go and help'” and then compares it to the realistic image of the trenches with ‘Lads, you’re wanted! Over there’. He follows the tradition of simple propaganda. He reveals how tragic an existence in the trenches is with ‘More poor devils like yourselves waiting to be killed by you’.
His simple and regular poem conveys to the reader that war is not a ‘game’ but a very horrific event. Mackintosh singles out journalists in his poem ‘Help to make the column’s stuff for the blasted journalists’ since they are making profits out of the misery of war. Pope however does not appear to think that the journalists are doing any harm since her poem has been written for a newspaper. Mackintosh has respect for all the men in the war ‘come and learn to live and die with honest men’ but he does not insult the men not joining the war effort like Pope does making them sound lazy taking a ‘seat in the stand’.
Pope makes the war sound like a huge source of entertainment, referring to it as ‘fun’, with the added bonus of fighting for your country. Mackintosh keeps to his anti war status throughout the poem and regards signing up for the war as helping to ‘swell the names in the causality list’. Mackintosh ends his poem on a rather sinister but truthful note ‘come and die’. Joining the war was not as Pope described and the sad truth was Mackintosh’s description was probably accurate.
Jessie Pope ends her poem on a positive note making the reader feel their country actually needs them and are ‘calling for you. ‘ Both these poems are effective in studying the literature of the First World War as they both present such different pictures. Mackintosh’s poem is an excellent example of poetry portraying the realism of war whereas Pope’s poem is an admirable model of the unfortunate attitude cultivated on the home front. The contrast between the two allows the reader to see the reality of the First World War from two different perspectives.