War poems

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  • 6 War Poems
    • Exposure - Owen
      • Structure
        • Very regimented to show their military routines and to show tedium of day-to-day life at war.
        • The rhythm of the poem is deliberately interrupted.
          • Can suggest discomfort and confusion.
          • Shows that there is no beauty in war.
      • Imagery
        • "All their eyes are ice" suggests that the soldiers want to get emotional but can't as they need to act 'manly' and it could also mean they physically can't cry as it is too cold and no tears are coming out.
        • "Pale flakes" suggests that he is pale because he gives up but can't and he is scared as no one can predict war and he doesn't know what to expect.
        • Ellipses has been used to show they are constantly waiting for something to happen but it never does.
      • Language
        • Literal
          • The whole poem is about the soldiers not knowing what their role/job is.
        • Metaphorical
          • The whole poem is the soldiers frequently asking themselves why is the war happening in the first place.
          • This poem is also based on the soldiers thinking they've been there for too long and forgot the purpose.
        • "we" and "our" are continuously repeated to show that ALL the soldiers have been abandoned and lost their freedom, not just Owen.
        • This poem is written formally to make it seem serious and to show the ordinary that no one enjoyies themselves in a war environment.
        • This poem is written in a sophisticated manner to make his point clear (about the reality of war).
      • Context
        • Owen first had a career in Church but felt failed to care for the local people.
        • Owen wanted to 'expose' the reality of war as propaganda made the ordinary think that war is a good place to be when it really isn't.
        • Owen joined the British army in 1915 and died in WW1 on the week before armistice day.
    • The Charge of the Light Brigade - Tennyson
      • Structure
        • Tells a story in the first three stanzas but the battle is in the fourth and fifth stanzas. The final stanza summarises the heroism of the brigade.
        • Written in third person, making it sound like a story.
        • Rhyming couplets drive the poem forward. The lack of rhyme scheme hints the chaos of war.
        • The regular rhythm creates a fast pace to imitate the energy of the battle. Rhythm also replicates the movements of the horses.
      • Language
        • Violent langauge
          • Uses powerful verbs and adjectives to give the readers an idea a sense of violence.
            • "Mouth of hell"
            • "jaws of death"
            • "valley of Death"
              • Biblical language/ allusion
        • Heroic langauge
          • Adverbs like "boldly" and verbs like "charging" emphasise the men's bravery.
          • Respectful language like "All the world wonder'd" shows how soldiers should be remembered.
      • Imagery
        • "into the valley of death" suggests many has been killed - inevitable fate.
        • "into the mouth of hell" reflects the religious times.
      • Context
        • This poem is based on he Crimean was which was between Britain and Russia (1853-1856).
        • The British army (also known as 'the Light Brigade') mis-understood an order from the generals which led many soldiers to die.
          • News was then sent around the world and many started to question the politicians and the generals who led.
    • Bayonet Charge - Hughes
      • Imagery
        • "Threw up a yellow hare that rolled like a flame" suggests that his emotions are trapped in a ball and are trying to find a way to reach for freedom.
        • "sweating like molten iron from the centre of his chest" is a simile which suggests that he is dehumanised and slowly melting like "molten iron" and in a lot of pain - as if this is torture.
        • "cold clockwork of the stars" connotes the constant fight between nature vs. manmade features of the world. Literal - he is looking at the stars wondering. Metaphorically - he is fighting against nature and manmade features. Symbolically - the people in change don't consider the aftermath and effects of those who aren't in charge.
      • Structure
        • Written in third person's point of view (omniscient narrator).
        • Many enjambment and caesuras evoke the muddled thoughts of the soldier and the speed of the battle.
        • Commas and dashes are often used to make it sound breathless and can  suggests that the dashes are bullets.
        • Poem starts in media res, no explanation on setting etc, making the reader think for themselves.
        • Doesn't rhyme, making it sound as if written in a rush, making the soldiers feel 'woken up' suddenly.
      • Language
        • By the end of the poem, the soldier's fear become "touchy dynamite" which implies that propels him to fight. All other patriotic reasons are forgotten.
        • Rhetorical question at the beginning of the second stanza offers a moment of reflection - time has momentarily paused.
        • "Patriotic tear that had brimmed in his eye" suggests that his patriotism is lost.
      • Conetxt
        • Likes to write about the constant fight between nature an d manmade features.
        • Hughes wasn't a soldier himself.
        • Set in WW1.
    • Remains - Armitage
      • Imagery
        • "it rips through his life" is a violent metaphor that contrasts shockingly with the colloquial language used in the first two stanzas.
        • "image of agony" suggests the constant image on his mind as if it has been 'planted'.
        • "his blood shadow stays on the street" suggests that it is a visual reminder of death and it foreshadows the memories that are going to haunt him.
        • "broad daylight on the other side" suggests that he can see straight through the bullet holes in the man's body. This is quite a grotesque exaggerated image.
      • Structure
        • The constant repetition of "somebody else" and "all" minimise the role and guilt. The sentence structure is line dominated by others. Personal pronoun shift from "we" to "my" towards the end of the poem.
        • Cyclical structure (meaning it replays (trauma and unescapable in this case)) - repetition of "probably armed, possibly not" from start to end of poem.
        • Begins in action (in media res) which shows that something has been going on and still is, chaos, reader doesn't know the whole story like the soldiers do and probably never will.
      • Language
        • Casual language juxtaposes serious situations - trying to diffuse horror.
          • e.g. "tosses his gut back into his body"
        • Metaphors- permanence of soldier and attempt to rid of illness of mind. Highlight that mental illness is just as hard as physical illness. Mental, inner conflict and aftermath can be just as damaging as war itself.
        • Colloquial - story like - informal and unimportant contrasts the violent imagery.
      • Context
        • This poem is based on a true story from an interview from a soldier that fought in the Iraq war.
        • The title suggests that his memories are like remains - not full as he is damaged by guilt and can also suggest the remains of a person/ soldier is all there is left because of war.
    • War Photographer - Duffy
      • Imagery
        • "all flesh is grass" is a biblical phrase taken from Isaiah in the Old Testament.
          • It suggests that life is short and that humans are fragile.
        • "spools of suffering set out in ordered rows" suggests that the reels of film are described like soldiers, or lie rows of war graves. Paradox - chaos and suffering is reduced to something ordered.
        • "half formed ghost" represents the half developed photo, showing to fade into existence, which is a complete juxtaposition to the brutality and sudden deaths at war.
        • "light is red" has connotations of evil and sinister happenings which is a juxtaposition to "Church" and "Mass" which is referenced in the next stanza in which represents sanctity and perhaps the photo -graphers solemn role he posses compared to the chaos portrayed by the conflict.
        • The religious imagery makes the photographer sound like a priest conducting a funeral when he is developing the pictures.
      • Structure
        • There's a distinct charge at the start of the third stanza when the photographer remembers a specific death.
        • Rhyming couplets and non-rhyming lines adds irregularity which sums up war.
        • In the final stanza, the focus shifts to the way the photo-grapher's work is received.
        • The poem has a tight and controlled structure, reflecting the photo-grapher's job who is attempting to impose control in order in his attempt for the public to understand the reality/ brutality of war.
      • Language
        • Emotive language is used to make an impact on the reader. E.g. "a hundred agonies in black and white"
        • "His editor will pick out five or six" shows that they aren't important enough to have all the pictures chosen and suggests that the editor is playing God as he is choosing which pictures to use to make the readers think about it and eventually cry.
        • Duffy uses emotive language to reflect the horrors the photographer has seen and convey how these images have embedded themselves in his memory too.
      • Context
        • Duffy was intrigued by the challenges faced by people whose job requires them to witness, and record horrific events without being able to help.
        • Provokes us to consider our own response when confronted with the photographs that we regularly see in our newspaper supplements.
        • Reveals the difficulties of such an occupation.
        • Her subject straddles two vastly different worlds but yet increasingly feels he belongs to neither.
    • Poppies - Weir
      • Structure
        • 19/35 lines have breaks in the middle of lines marked by commas or more strongly by full stops (caesuras).
        • Careful variation of form suggests inner emotion of narrator who is trying to remain calm and composed but is breaking inside.
        • Time sequence keeps changing along with her emotions.
      • Imagery
        • References to "Armistice Sunday" and the "war memorial" confuses the reader whether he is alive or not.
        • Images of war and violence symbolises the sons new identity and the danger that he's in. E.g. "I was brave".
      • Language
        • The final line creates imagery of her son’s first day at school. This would have been another day fraught with emotions, but whereas there was the hope of catching his “playground voice” back then, there is no such hope now.
          • This suggests a conflict in the narrator’s feelings towards her son growing up. In her mind, he is still a child.
        • The metaphor on line 16 alludes to the crown made from thorns worn by Jesus at his crucifixion. An allusion is when something calls to mind without mentioning it explicitly.
      • Context
        • The poem uses the first person and direct address, showing the voice of the mother speaking to the son.
        • There is a strong semantic field relating to textiles.
        • The time shifts are very complex in this poem, and are perhaps deliberately unclear. This contributes to the theme of memory, implying a level of unreliability of memories.
        • This poem is an elegy which emphasises the mother's sorrow and sadness which emulates the cycle of grief.

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