Some of them regarded the war as an adventure undertaken for noble ends, while some others described it as a terrible experience and many of them lost their lives fighting.
Their poetry is considered modern because the novelty in subject matter forced them to find new ways to express themselves.
Different attitudes to war:
• Patriotic enthusiasm that led them to enlist (es. Brooke)
• Anger when they realize what war really is (Sassoon)
• Compassion towards the young soldiers (Owen)
• Detachment (Rosenberg)
Rupert Brooke (1887-1915)
Well-educated boy. He died very young because of blood-poisoning therefore he didn’t manage to assist to the real horrors of war. His poems are very sentimental and lyrical, unlike the other ones. He inspired patriotism to the other soldiers.
It is a Petrarchan sonnet--> the form matches the matter
He wants to convey the concept of patriotism (love for England)+ idealization of war
Actually the octave is a Shakespeare one, while the sestet is Petrarchan.
Octave: the poet, as if he was an anonymous soldier, addresses the people from England, and tells them not to mourn. He refuses mourning and he idealizes the war. On the contrary, he focuses on the body of the soldiers. ("A richer dust concealed whom England bore"-->which turns the "foreign corner" into the glorious England--> celebration of the mother-country through:
-image of being a mother
-image of idyllic beauty (flowers, rivers..)
Selflessness--> sacrifice your life for England
Sestet: the themes are emphasized by the image of the heart of the soldier. It comes back to England and once the soldier dies finds peace.
Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)
He was well educated, he became a teacher.
When he visited a hospital for the wounded he decided to enlist. During the war he started writing poems. Owen fought in the trenches more than any other war poet.
He was killed in a battle just before the Armistice.
Poetry: innovation of para-rhyme.
June 1918- Preface to Disabled and other poems
He wants to communicate the “pity” of war to future generations because it is not consolatory for the present generation
Dulce et decorum est- (=sweet and honourable) is a quotation from Horace.
Attack against another poet (Jessie Pope) who celebrated war and at the same time he wanted to raise awareness and shock the Sibillians. The whole poem is against the title, is to prove that the title is a lie. The mood is not sentimental.
This poem is an example of modern poetry, is innovative. It's sonnet, couplet and free verse at the very end.
Sonnet: Soldiers and the poet are retreating from the battle field, they're running away to the trenches, that are called "rest" by the poet. Use of we.
The focus is on their physical description and their psychological one.
All their senses are described: they can't walk (lame), they can't see (blind) they can't hear anymore (deaf).
Metaphor: drunk with fatigue. Physically degraded, it emphasizes the lack of dignity.
Slow movement (trudge=trascinarsi). Anger, anguish, agony.
Sudden gas attack-->The poet sees the man dying (drowning, as under a green see), through the gas mask because he didn't manage to put the gas mask in time.
He doesn't talk about panic, but he described that moment as "fumbling" and "clumsy". "Floundering"= struggling in water, helplessly (image of drowning in the sea). Dim and misty give the idea of the distance between him and the man. Use of I.
Couplet: nightmares in which he sees the soldier dying, but in this case he's plunging at him, because the image was so strong. It reveals the aspect of a habit, as he uses the present simple (he plunges), it's a constant nightmare. It haunts him.
Free verse: the poet addresses the reader. Use of second conditional (if you could), it gives the idea of something almost impossible. Dulce et decorum est is “the old lie” (conclusion).
Language: Alliteration of harsh sounds. Onomatopoeias. Rhyming scheme broken. A lot of enjambments.
Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967)
The subject matter is not very different (anger towards the war) but they differentiate in the tone which is almost satirical sometimes.
He experienced the war and the shock was greater because he was the most innocent one and so reflected in his poetry. On the one hand he decided to write poems about war and on the other hand he took a public stand against the war writing a speech which he read out in the House of Commons in 1917. In his “Declaration against the War” he denounces the insincerities and political errors for which the soldiers were sacrificed.
He was sent to the hospital because he suffered from shell shock and he met Owen.
Tone: sardonic detachment (=cynical and satirical at the same time).
Suicide in the trenches
Form: 3 stanzas made up of 4 lines
1st stanza: the poet describes the story of a soldier boy who committed a suicide in the trenches. He recorded a particular moment in his memory. His joy is empty (oxymoron), we have many contrasting elements that describe his life. The focus in this stanza is on the past, the life before the war when he was living a simple life. Negative elements, such as empty joy and grinning which is a fake smile, an attempt to show happiness, they create foreshadowing. The make us predict that this tranquility will not last.
2nd stanza: description of his breakdown and suicide but the poet uses a soft tone, not harsh. This didn't even have an impact on anyone except from the poet (I) which is why he's recounting the story.
3rd stanza: there's an accusation (“you”) to the crowd who support the military parades because they don't know anything about the "hell" of the war.
Isaac Rosenberg (1890-1918)
Jewish family. He was a talented portrait artist and he wanted to be a professional one but he enlisted and he was killed in a battle when he was very young. His poetry was less sentimental and less concerned with the pity of war, he presented realistic details of the war.