War Poetry

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Poetry Assignment

War Poetry

A popular theme for poets in the last century was war. Many famous poems were written about the two world wars, as well as the Korean and Vietnam wars. For my report I have chosen six poems, three by Wilfred Owen and three by Australian poets. ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth', ‘The Send Off' and ‘Insensibility (1)' were written by Owen during the first world war to express his anti-war attitude. ‘Beach Burial' by Kenneth Slessor, ‘Homecoming' by Bruce Dawe and ‘Letter XV' by Bruce Beaver are famous Australian poems about war. The poems have many similarities, especially in content, but also have their differences.

The subject matter of the poems is obviously generally the same. Most are about soldiers dying/dead because of a war. ‘Beach Burial' is specifically about the WW2 battle at El Alamein, and ‘Homecoming' is concerned with the effect of the Vietnam War, but the rest are about war in general. The purpose of the poems is to convey the poets' own beliefs against war, for example Wilfred Owen was an avid anti-war activist, despite - or maybe because of - the fact that he fought in WW1. The emotion portrayed is mostly depressive, somber and bitter. ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth' seems slightly accusatory; this is because the poet asks questions of the reader, almost daring the reader to disagree. ‘Letter XV' emits a confused mood, as if the poet doesn't understand why war exists.

All the poems could probably be described as elegies, considering they are all laments for the dead. ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth' is almost a Shakespearean sonnet, but the rhyming is wrong, so technically it is a Petrarchan sonnet (divided into an octave and sestet). The other poems are either separated into regular stanzas – like ‘Beach Burial'- or have no real structure, such as ‘Homecoming'. There is plenty of imagery in most of the poems. ‘The Send Off' used the oxymoron ‘faces grimly gay' to describe the men, indicating that they seem happy but they...
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