War Poetry Essay Questions

War Poetry Essay Questions-51
When I was a student in Kolkata, the former capital of British India, the figures of the two ‘Tommies’ standing guard by the city’s Cenotaph-like First World War memorial always blended in my mind with Owen and Sassoon whom we read at Presidency College, which claimed to have the oldest English department in the world.

When I was a student in Kolkata, the former capital of British India, the figures of the two ‘Tommies’ standing guard by the city’s Cenotaph-like First World War memorial always blended in my mind with Owen and Sassoon whom we read at Presidency College, which claimed to have the oldest English department in the world.

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Categories such as ‘pro-war’ and ‘anti-war’ often prove inadequate, when tested against the complexity of individual poems.

The poetry of the First World War is often regarded as peculiarly ‘English’, but many of the soldier-poets had a conflicted relation to ‘Englishness’: Sorley was Anglo-Scottish, Rosenberg and Sassoon (on his father’s side) were Jewish, Ledwidge was Irish, while Owen, Jones and Thomas could trace their recent family history to Wales.

Moreover, war poetry was produced across Europe, by poets as diverse as Giuseppe Ungaretti, Georg Trakl, Guillaume Apollinaire and Anna Akhmatova, and further afield from countries such as Australia and New Zealand, Canada, India, the West Indies and Turkey.

And lying in Sheer I look round at the corpses of the larches Whom they slew to make pit-props For mining the coal for the great armies. And if these years have made you into a pit-prop, To carry the twisting galleries of the world’s reconstruction (Where you may thank God, I suppose, That they set you the sole stay of a nasty corner) What use is it to you? From Anglo-Saxon times to the Boer War, war poetry in English was written largely by civilians and did not have a clearly defined identity; with the extraordinary outpouring between 19, it established itself as a genre and the soldier-poet became a species.

On Easter Sunday 1915, when Dean Inge read out ‘The Soldier’ by Brooke from the pulpit at St Paul’s Cathedral, he was at once creating and anointing a secular saint: the ‘poet soldier’. The term ‘war poetry’ or ‘war verse’, by contrast, starts gaining currency from 1917 and crests in popularity in the post-war years.

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