War Poets

War Poets

Who are the war poets?

The war poets are a generation of poets who dealt with the first world war trying to describe its different aspects in very different ways.


Before the First World War started, people from England believed in the myth of “meliorism“, which consists in the belief of progress. When the war started, people started realising it was lasting longer than expected and the soldiers on the fronts were dying like flies. Besides new ways to fight were involved in the war, as for example bombs and gas .

On both fronts initial enthusiasm and idealism were eventually replaced by disillusionment and psychological breakdown. This two ways to see the war were especially displayed by two respective poets: Rupert Brooke and Wilfred Owen

Rupert Brooke

In the first years of the war, Rupert Brooke wrote a Poem called ‘The soldier’ in which the main themes are a deep sense of patriotic duty, idealism and nature. In fact, he uses words from the semantic field of nature, love and religion along with various rhetorical figures used to explain how the soldiers owe Mother England their own life. From the point of view of the structure, it presents the one of a traditional italian sonnet.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away

A pulse in the eternal mind, no less

Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;

Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;

And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,

In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

The soldier by Rupert Brooke

Wilfred Owen

Wilfred Owen described the horror of the condition of the soldiers in the trenches in his poem ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’. From the structure point of view, it subverts expectations adding an extra couplet. The themes are unhonorable death, shellshock and solitude. The description of the life in the trenches is highlighted by the stopped consonants, the onomatopoeia and the semantic fields of illnesses along with devices as the economic fashion and hypallages.

If you could hear at every jolt, the blood

Come gargling from the forth-corrupted lungs

Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud

Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest

To children ardent for some desperate glory,

The old lie: Dulce et decorum est

Pro Patria mori.

Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen

This were the War Poets! 😉

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