Essay: Analysis of Poets War Poetry

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[. . .] Gentle images such as the "flowers to love" and the glorious picture of the English countryside, including the "rivers" and the "suns of home," emphasize the peaceful tone. The sestet gives an sanguine tone of idyllic peace as well, with phrases such as "dreams as happy as her day," "laughter," and "an English heaven." The last line especially explains the gentle tone of the poem, with the phrase, "and gentleness, in hearts at peace."

On the contrary, Thomas Hardy's explained war not as pleasing as Brooke did. In his poem, "Drummer Hodge," Hardy narrates a story of an Englishman who died during the Boer war, in South Africa (Johnston, 1964). Thomas wrote this poem after completion of World wars. Similar to Brooke, he never participated in a War; in fact, he was 72 years old when he wrote this poem. Thus, what he wrote was out of his own imagination and perception of war.

Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 and was a son of a country man. Hardy appeared to have a normal successful life however, Hardy seemed to live a peaceful and successful life, but there was a "pattern of storm beneath the tranquility." During these three decades of creation, public acclaim, and critical praise, his private life was overshadowed by what appeared to be his wife's fall to insanity[footnoteRef:1]. She was a victim of delusions, one of her biggest delusions is that she married a lesser man than she deserved.[footnoteRef:2] She also believed that she had written Hardy's work and he stole them from her to be published for himself. She also insulted him publicly by taking more pride in being the niece of archdeacon than being the wife of the greatest English writer. She even tried to stop the publication of Jude the Obscure because she felt it immoral. She died unexpectedly in 1912 and even though Hardy was with her last before she died, she never regained consciousness after a dispute they had earlier. His remorse and grief broke into the release of the most moving love poems of his or any other century. Home life became much calmer and ordered when he married Florence Ellen Dugdale in 1914[footnoteRef:3]. All around him people were in extreme poverty because of the poor law system. There were many skilled men that didn't have jobs. Hardy was not only a poet, he was also a novelist. His belief on the purpose of fiction was 'to give pleasure by gratifying the love of the uncommon human experience. It is clear that Hardy knew of lost love and experienced the surrounding hardships. Thomas Hardy was a good writer and he led a good life.[footnoteRef:4] [1: Hardy, Evelyn. Thomas Hardy: A Critical Biography. London: Hogarth Press, 1954. ] [2: Millgate, Michael. Thomas Hardy: A Biography. Oxford University Press, 1982. ] [3: Turner, Paul. The Life of Thomas Hardy: A Critical Biography. London: Blackwell, 1998] [4: Zeitlow, Paul. Moments of Vision: The Poetry of Thomas Hardy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1974.]

Drummer Hodge was a young chap who died during war but for a cause which he failed to understand. And worse, once he died, his dead body was shown no respect and was mutilated badly. In fact, it was thrown in a ditch along with other dead bodies. His grave was given no headstone, therefore no one could recognize here he was buried. The only landmark to show the position of his grave is the "kopje crest/That breaks the veldt around." Hodge was given a rather foreign treatment and Hardy used terms like "kopje" and "veldt," to explain his resting place and by the strangeness, to him, of the stars that rise nightly over his grave.

Hodge was a young and naive solider who didn't deserved to be there in the battle field in the first place. Now that he had fought the battle and served his country, his services should have been acknowledged. Although Hodge was ignorant to the cause of war but he would always remain part of South African veldt forever. His body dusted in the soil would later on act as a fertilizer for some tree in South Africa. The irony of this situation has been explained by using terms like "southern trees" and "strange stars."

Furthermore, the embarrassment of being buried in a strange land gives a rather peculiar touch to the whole situation. As Brooke, dying on a foreign land would have been something to be proud of which will earn him heaven. However, Hardy explained the distress and humiliation that one might feel after having his contribution during war, going unnoticed.

Hodge has clearly opted for a typical theme of war, which is full of horrors.

While explaining the treatment given to the soldiers during war, one cannot forget the horror that they went through in war trenches. The trenches were best explained by Paul Fussell in his book, The Great War and Modern Memory,

"The idea of "the trenches" has been assimilated so successfully by metaphor and myth ("Georgian complacency died in the trenches") that it is not easy now to recover a feeling for the actualities. Entrenched, in an expression like entrenched power, has been a dead metaphor so long that we must bestir ourselves to recover its literal sense. It is time to take a tour. From the winter of 1914 until the spring of 1918 the trench system was fixed, moving here and there a few hundred yards, moving on great occasions as much as a few miles. (Fussell, 1981)"

Paul explained that the war trenches of the oppositions were quite near to each other and it was quite daunting to have enemies' present so near to English soldiers.

"Another imagination has contemplated a similar absurd transmission of sound all the way from north to south. Alexander Aitken remembers the Germans opposite him celebrating some happy public event in early June, 1916, presumably either the (ambiguous) German success at the naval battle of Jutland (May 3 I-June ') or the drowning of Lord Kitchener, lost on June 5 when the cruiser Hampshire struck a mine and sank off the Orkney Islands. Aitken writes, "There had been a morning in early June when a tremendous tin-canning and beating of shell gongs had begun in the north and run south down their lines to end, without doubt, at Belfort and Mulhausen on the Swiss frontier." Impossible to believe, really, but in this mad setting, somehow plausible (Fussell, 1981)."

Fussel further mentioned about how the soldiers felt in these trenches

"But most of the time the soiders were not questing. They were sitting or lying or squatting in place below the level of the ground. "When all is said and done," Sassoon notes, "the war was mainly a matter of holes and ditches." And in these holes and ditches extending for ninety miles, continually, even in the quietest times, some 7000 British men and officers were killed and wounded daily, just as a matter of course. "Wastage," the Staff called it. (Fussell, 1981)" "

Isaac Rosenberg was a Jewish man and his parents migrated from Lithuania. Rosenberg was raised in extreme poverty in East London where due to his ethnicity, he was isolated not only from British intellectual circle but also in the Warfield, within his fellows in trenches. Rosenberg's work enjoyed no popularity until four years after his death when his work was published.

He was a graduate from Slade School of Art, but he couldn't find the work anywhere as a painter. Therefore, in order to support his family, he had to join 12th Suffolk regiment's 'bantam' battalion (so called because it was for men under five feet three inches tall) which got his mother a separation allowance from government.

Rosenberg was killed during war however his body was never found nor got buried. On top of that, he wasn't even given any recognition by government neither a memorial headstone. Even in 1927, his parents paid for having a headstone named after him, in which he wasn't mentioned as solider but as "poet and artist." He never published his work. As a matter of fact, some of his friends gathered his old work and got it published at their own expense.

His work shows that he was a man of compassion who felt excruciating agony and horror the war made him feel.

Rosenberg's isolation and loneliness is rather visible from his poem "Dead Man's Dump" in which absence of peers is clearly visible. The poem has rather rambling articulation which is difficult to savor. In this poem, the redundant repetition of images is in marked contrast to precise muscularity of Futility. For example, the eighth line of Dead Man's Dump ("Maniac Earth! howling and flying, your bowel...") presents the same idea as third and fourth verse.

In his poem, Dead Man's Dump narrates a horrifying scene ("The wheels lurched... bones crunched") and then asks the reader about the souls of the soldiers who were alive few moments and were found"… [END OF PREVIEW]

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