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English Poetry during World War I


English Poetry during World War I What do you think the response to war was in England, as much in other European countries? It was enthusiastic because a lot of ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: English Poetry during World War I

English Poetry during World War I
  • What do you think the response to war was in
    England, as much in other European countries?
  • It was enthusiastic because a lot of volunteers
    enrolled in the armed forces.
  • Some driven by a wish for glory and adventure,
    but most by genuine patriotism. World War One
  • But after a few months the original enthusiasm
    disappeared and was replaced by discomfort and

English Poetry during World War I
  • The heavy number of casualties made conscription
  • World War I also brought to an end the illusion
    that problems could be solved peacefully.
  • No war before or since then has had such a
    shattering impact on the British population.

The War Poets
  • In England it was first of all the voice of the
    young poets, called War Poets, that first
    denounced what trench life or death by gas were
  • What was the early response to the war?
  • It was a sort of deep romantic sense of patriotic
    duty, as the war went on the attitude changed and
    the poets turned to a more realistic sort of
    poetry, inspired by personal experiences of small
    and great tragedies of thousands of unknown

The War Poets
  • How to translate experience of war into poetry?
  • Obviously, since the experience of war was so
    tragic and devastating, war poets had to find a
    way to translate into poetry what they had
    experienced, or in some case were experiencing.

The War Poets
  • As they realized what the war was really about,
    poets abandoned the romantic vocabulary they had
    previously used and felt the need for new means
    of expression
  • new rhythms and new styles that could better
    mirror the harsh reality of war.
  • They couldnt have possibly relied on Georgian
    poetry, which was written in smooth rhythms and
    favoured English subjects, idealized rural
    England and avoided contemporary subjects.

The War Poets
  • The War Poets (Rupert Brooke, Owen Seaman,
    Sigfrid Sasson, Wilfred Owen) shared the same
  • but focused on different aspects of the war and
    used different means of expression.

The War Poets Rupert Brooke
  • His war sonnets were written in the first flush
    of patriotism and enthusiasm as a generation
    unused to war rushed to defend king and country.
  • If I should die, think only this of meThat
    there's some corner of a foreign fieldThat is
    for ever England. There shall beIn that rich
    earth a richer dust concealedA dust whom
    England bore, shaped, made aware.(from war
    sonnets- sonnet V. the soldier)

The War Poets Owen Seaman
  • Another example of patriotism is shown by the
    following lines written by O. Seaman
  • England, in this great fight to which you
    goBecause, where Honour calls you, go you
    must,Be glad, whatever comes, at least to
    knowYou have your quarrel just.

The War Poets - Sigfrid Sasson
  • Sassoons poems are a combination of pity and
  • Look at his poem Base Details

IF I were fierce, and bald, and short of
breath,Id live with scarlet Majors at the
Base, And speed glum heroes up the line to
death.  Youd see me with my puffy petulant
face, Guzzling and gulping in the best
hotel,   Reading the Roll of Honour. Poor young
chap, Id sayI used to know his father
well Yes, weve lost heavily in this last
scrap.And when the war is done and youth stone
dead, Id toddle safely home and die in bed.
The War Poets - Sigfrid Sasson
  • The irony here is in the comfortable life of the
    commanders the Majors who monitor the war
    from the luxury of hotel rooms, reading with
    indifference the list of dead soldiers who have
    died in the battlefield.
  • They will not die in the battlefields of
    Flanders, but securely in their beds, long after
    the war has ended.

The War Poets Wilfred Owen
  • Owen portrayed the idea of war as a cause of
    physical and spiritual mutilation and used
    understatements to bring a certain deal of
    harshness into his poetry.

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori
  • By
  • W. Owen

'My subject is War, and the pity of War. The
Poetry is in the pity. Yet these elegies are to
this generation in no sense consolatory. They may
be to the next. All a poet can do today is warn.
That is why the true Poets must be truthful.'
  • Wilfred Edward Salter Owen was born 18 March 1893
    in Oswestry, Shropshire. After his school days he
    took a four-year course as a pupil-teacher. Then
    in 1913, he spent two years in France, as a
    language tutor.
  • War was declared in August 1914 and in 1915
    Wilfred wrote to his mother, 'I don't want to
    wear khaki ... But I now do most intensely want
    to fight.' In October he volunteered and was
    sworn into the Artists' Rifles. Eight months
    later he was commissioned as second lieutenant in
    the Manchester Regiment, and in December 1916 he
    left for the Western Front.
  • After a last luxurious night in a Folkestone
    hotel, Owen was quickly plunged into the
    realities of active service, and suffered the
    horrors described - only three weeks later - in a
    vivid letter to his mother.
  • In May 1917, Owen was diagnosed with shell-shock,
    and he was sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital,
    near Edinburgh, in June. Here he met Siegfried
    Sassoon. On 22 September of that year Owen sent a
    final version of his poem 'The Sentry' - as heard
    here in audio extracts - to Sassoon, who made
    sure that it was eventually published.
  • Wilfred Owen was awarded the Military Cross
    following his actions on 1-2 October 1918 at
    Joncourt on the Beaurevoir-Fonsomme Line.
    Confirmation of the award came after his death.

  • Since ancient times it has been considered heroic
    to die in war.
  • Homers epic poem The Illiad celebrates, among
    other things, the nobility of dying on the
  • This view continued well into the 19th Century
    (and even the 20th Century), and Tennysons
    popular poem The Charge of the Light Brigade
    gives us an idea of how poets and people in
    general thought about the valour of fighting
    and dying for ones country

  • Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them,
    Cannon behind themVolleyd and thunderd When
    can their glory fade? O the wild charge they
    made! All the world wonderd. Honour the charge
    they made! Honour the Light Brigade, Noble six

  • These lines by Tennyson may be well written and
    rousing, but they are not very realistic.
  • The poets of the First World War changed all that
    with their efforts to give us an accurate
    representation of trench warfare.

Dulce Et Decorum Est
  • Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
  • Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed
    through sludge,
  • Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
  • And towards our distant rest began to trudge.

  • Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
  • But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame all
  • Drunk with fatigue deaf even to the hoots
  • Of tired, outstripped Five_Nines that dropped

  • GAS! Gas! Quick, boys! An ecstasy of fumbling,
  • Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time
  • But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
  • And floundering like a man in fire or lime.
  • Dim, through the misty panes and thick green
  • As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

  • In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
  • He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

  • If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
  • Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
  • And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
  • His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin

  • If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
  • Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
  • Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
  • Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,

  • My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
  • To children ardent for some desperate glory,
  • The old Lie
  • Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.

  • The theme of Dulce et Decorum est is that
  • there is neither nobility in war, nor honour in
    fighting for your country.
  • Instead there is tragedy, futility and waste of
    human life.

  • Wilfred Owen fought in some of the major battles
    of World War I and the reality and horror of war
    shocked him.
  • In the face of the desperate suffering he saw
    around him, it was no longer possible to pretend
    warfare was adventurous and heroic.

  • Instead Owen recorded in his poetry how shocking
    modern warfare was and he sought to describe
    accurately what the conditions were like for
    soldiers at the FrontListen
  • Bent-double, like old beggers under sacks,
    Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed
    through sludge,

  • Owen wanted people who were not in the trenches
    the people at home in England to see the
    reality and misery of war.
  • He also wanted them to stop telling future
    generations the old lie Dulce et decorum est
    pro patria mori (It is sweet and fitting to die
    for ones country.).
  • It is worth noting that these lines were written
    by the poet Horace, two thousand years earlier.

  • Dulce et Decorum est is built around three
    powerful and disturbing images.

  • The first in the opening stanza
  • a group of soldiers moves through no-mans land
    in an attempt to get back to the relative safety
    of the trenches.
  • Why do you think he does so?

  • Owen wants us to imagine what it was like in
    these trenches to see the detail
  • (many had lost their boots)
  • and reality of dying in such a place.
  • Q. What words does Owen use to describe the
    conditions of the men?

  • Look carefully at the words Owen uses to describe
    the condition of the men
  • asleep, lost, limped, blood-shod, lame,
  • Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots But
    limped on, blood-shod. All went lame all blind

  • The second image (found in the second stanza) is
    more dramatic.
  • Notice how the first words of the stanza change
    the pace of the poem, making it more urgent as
    the soldiers come under attack and try to put on
    their gas masks before they choke

  • Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! An ecstasy of fumbling,
  • Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time
  • The poet manages to get his mask on. After the
    sudden activity of the men.
  • the last two lines of this stanza change pace

  • They have an almost dreamlike quality as the poet
    watches from behind his gas mask.
  • As the thick green smoke washes over the men,
    the poet uses a striking simile of the sea to
    describe the gas.
  • But one man fumbles with his mask and is overcome
    by the fumes and drowns in the sea of thick

Graphic imagery
  • The troops were torn out of their nightmarish
    walk and surrounded by gas bombs.
  • How everyone, in "an ecstasy of fumbling" was
    forced to run out into the mist, unaware of their
  • The graphic images displayed here are profoundly
    affecting and can never be forgotten.

  • Dim, through the misty panes and thick green
    light, As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

  • The dream quality of this stanza gives way, in
    the third and final image
  • A picture of the dead man as his body is put on a
    wagon filled with the bodies of other dead

  • His hanging face like a devils sick of sin
  • Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
  • Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues.

  • Although young men went to war with the promise
    of glory and comradeship, in these lines the poet
    presents us with the awful truth about war and
  • Q. What is the truth?

  • that it is a brutal waste of life that causes
    unspeakable human misery and corruption.

  • Dulce et Decorum est is a poem filled with
    powerful and harsh music.
  • In the opening lines the poet uses alliteration
    (words starting with the same consonant sound)
  • What do you think is the effect of such a device?
  • to emphasize the tiredness of the soldiers as
    they walk through the sludge. (thick soft mud)

  • Listen carefully to the lines to see how the
    alliteration gives the poem a slow and heavy
  • Bent double, like old beggers under sacks,
    Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed
    through sludge

  • In the second stanza the soldiers are attacked
    and the pace of the poem speeds up as the
    soldiers try to put on their gas masks

  • Gas! GAS! Quick boys! An ecstasy of
    fumbling,Fitting the clumsy helmets just in
  • But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
    And floundring like a man in fire or lime . .

  • What kind of rhymes does the poet use?
  • internal rhyme
  • (fumbling / clumsy stumbling / floundring)
  • end rhyme (time, lime)
  • Why do you think he does so?

  • This use of rhyme gives the poem a change of
  • it also conveys the confusion and panic of the
    soldiers as they scramble to put on their masks.
  • Look for other examples in the poem where the
    poet uses rhyme, half rhyme and alliteration. See
    how these devices are used to change the pace and
    rhythm of the poem.

  • What is the tone of the poem?
  • Dulce et Decorum est is a very dramatic poem.
    It shows us, like no poem before it, the terrible
    waste of life during World War I.
  • The tone of the poem is desperate, shocked and

Metaphors and similes
  • people use metaphors because they say "...what we
    want to say more vividly and forcefully..."
  • Owen capitalizes greatly on this by using strong
    metaphors and similes .

Metaphors and similes
  • Right off in the first line, he describes the
    troops as being "like old beggars under sacks."
  • This not only says that they are tired,
  • but that they are so tired they have been
    brought down to the level of beggars who have not
    slept in a bed for weeks on end.

Metaphors and similes
  • Owen also compares the victim's face to the
    devil, seeming corrupted and baneful.
  • His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin.
  • A metaphor even more effective is one that
    compares "...vile, incurable sores..." with the
    memories of the troops.

Metaphors and similes
  • It not only tells the reader how the troops will
    never forget the experience, but also how they
    are frightening tales.
  • The troops will never be able to tell without
    remembering the extremely painful experience.

  • knock-kneed having knees that point inwards
  • sludge -soft thick mud
  • Hag an ugly or unpleasant old woman - like a
  • Curse to say or think bad things about someone
    or something because they have made you angry
  • Haunting flares segnale luminoso
  • Trudgeto walk with slow, heavy steps, especially
    because you are tired
  • blood-shod calzando sangue wearing shoes of
  • Lameunable to walk normally because of an enjury
    or tiredness

  • Hoots sounds e.g. made by the dropping bombs
  • Fumbling to hold or try and move something with
    your hands carelessly.
  • Clumsya clumsy object is not easy to use and is
    often large and heavy
  • Stumblingto walk unsteadily and often almost
  • Floundering unable to decide what to say or do
    so that you find it difficult to continue
  • Lime calce
  • Dim fairly dark or not giving much light
  • Plunge to move, fall forwards or backwards
  • Guttering breath struggendosi
  • Choking beaing unable to
  • Flung (v.fling) to trow something violently or

  • Writhing moving continually because of great
  • like a devil's sick of sin come un diavolo
    stanco del peccato
  • Jolt a sudden or violent movement
  • gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs Che
    sale gorgogliando dai polmoni distrutti
  • bitter as the cud of vile, incurable sores on
    innocent tonguesamaro come fiele di
    disgustose, incurabili piaghe su lingue
  • Zestenthusiasm

Cud bolo alimentare dei ruminanti
Italian Translation
  • Piegati in due, come vecchi mendicanti sotto i
    sacchi,Ginocchia piegate allinterno, tossendo
    come streghe, bestemmiavamo nel fango,Finchè
    vedemmò il segnale luminoso e cominciammo a
    ritornare, Incominciavamo a trascinarci verso il
    nostro distante riparo.Uomini camminavano
    addormentati. Molti avevano perso le loro
    scarpeMa zoppicavano, vestiti di solo sangue.
    Tutti erano zoppi tutti ciechiUbriachi di
    fatica spesso troppo sordi per sentire il
    rumoreDelle bombe a gas che cadevano
    sofficemente dietro di noi.
  • Gas! Gas! Veloci, ragazzi! - Unestasi di
    gesticolio,Mettendosi i buffi elmetti appena in
    tempoMa qualcuno stava ancora gridando e
    inciampando,E lottando come uomini nel fuoco o
    nella calce...Senza chiarezza, attraverso i
    vetri appannati e le fitte luci verdi,Come sotto
    un mare verde, lo vidi annegare.In tutti i miei
    sogni, oltre la mia impotente vista,Si buttava
    verso di me, struggendosi, soffocando,
    affogando.Se in qualche soffocante sogno anche
    tu potessi camminareDietro il carro su cui lo
    gettammo,E guardassi i bianchi occhi roteanti
    sulla sua faccia,La sua cascante faccia, come un
    diavolo stanco dal peccatoSe tu potessi
    ascoltare, ad ogni scossone, il sangueChe sale
    gorgogliando dai polmoni distrutti dalla
    schiuma,Osceno come il cancro, più amaro del
    fieleDi disgustose, incurabili piaghe di lingue
    innocenti,-Mio amico, non diresti con un così
    grande entusiasmoAi ragazzi desiderosi di una
    qualche gloria,La vecchia bugia Dulce et
    decorum estPro patria mori.
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