Learning Object: Analysing and Understanding the Poetry of WWI


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A Learning Object used to help students develop a greater understanding of poetry from WWI; its form, structure, style and technique.

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Learning Object: Analysing and Understanding the Poetry of WWI

  1. 1. YEAR 11 ENGLISH World War I Poetry
  2. 2. Wilfred Owen (1893–1918)Owen enlisted in the Artists‟ Rifles in 1915. On 4th June 1916 Owen was commissioned as a second lieutenantwith the Manchester Regiment. In the last days of 1916 he was posted to France. In March, he sufferedconcussion and spent time in hospital. In April he returned to the front again, only to be caught up in fiercefighting and lay semi-conscious in a shell crater with the dismembered remains of a friend; he was diagnosedas suffering from shell-shock and evacuated to England. On the 4th of November 1918 Owen was killed inaction.Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967)Siegfried joined the Sussex Yeomanry on 4th August 1914, the day that England declared war. In March 1916Siegfried was finally able to secure a front-line placement. He displayed courage and calm under fire,receiving a Military Cross. In February 1918 Sassoon was back in France supporting allied forces. On 13th Junewhile returning to the trenches from a patrol in No Mans Land he was accidentally mistaken for a German, andwas shot in the head. This event ended his direct experience of the warRupert Brooke (1887-1915)Brookes war experience consisted of one day of limited military action with the Hood Battalion during theevacuation of Antwerp. Brooke died in the Aegean Sea (from blood poisoning) on his way to battle at Gallipoliand was buried on the Island of Skyros.Ivor Gurney (1890–1937)Gurney tried to enlist at the outbreak of war, but was rejected due to poor eyesight (he wore glasses ). Heeventually joined on the 9th February, 1915, as a private with the 2nd/5th Gloucesters. He was injured in early1917, and later during the Battle of Passchendaele (Third Ypres) he was caught in a gas attack and invalidedhomeRobert Graves (1895–1985)Robert Graves was born in 1895 in Wimbledon. Grave enlisted when war was declared in August 1914. On 20July 1916 during the Battle of the Somme Graves was struck by a shell fragment. He was taken to a dressing-station, and next morning was reported to have died. He survived however damage to his nerves and generalhealth meant that his return to France in 1917 was not for long, and he spent the remainder of the war invarious posts in England and Ireland.
  3. 3. William Owen Anthem for Doomed Youth What passing-bells for these who die as cattle? Only the monstrous anger of the guns. Only the stuttering rifles rapid rattle Can patter out their hasty orisons. No mockeries for them; no prayers nor bells, Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, -- The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells; And bugles calling for them from sad shires. What candles may be held to speed them all? Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes. The pallor of girls brows shall be their pall; Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds, And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
  4. 4. William Owenpreface from ”Wilfred Owen: War Poems and Others” Editedby Dominic Hibberd and William HoveyThis book is not about heroes. English They may be to the next.Poetry is not yet fit to speak All the poet can do to-day is to warn.of them. Nor is it about deeds or lands, That is why the true Poets must benor anything about glory, honour, truthful.dominion or power, If I thought the letter of this book wouldexcept War. last, I might have used proper names; but ifAbove all, this book is not concerned the spirit of it survives Prussia, --with Poetry. my ambition and those names will beThe subject of it is War, and the pity of content; for they will haveWar. achieved themselves fresher fields thanThe Poetry is in the pity. Flanders.Yet these elegies are not to thisgeneration, Note. -- This Preface was found, in anThis is in no sense consolatory. unfinished condition, among Wilfred Owens papers.
  5. 5. Siegfried Sassoon Base Details If I were fierce, and bald, and short of breath, Id live with scarlet Majors at the Base, And speed glum heroes up the line to death. Youd see me with my puffy petulant face, Guzzling and gulping in the best hotel, Reading the Roll of Honour. "Poor young chap," Id say--"I used to know his father well; Yes, weve lost heavily in this last scrap." And when the war is done and youth stone dead, Id toddle safely home and die--in bed.
  6. 6. Rupert Brooke The Soldier If I should die, think only this of me: That theres some corner of a foreign field That is for ever England. There shall be In that rich earth a richer dust concealed; A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware, Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam, A body of Englands, breathing English air, Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home. 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.
  7. 7. Ivor Gurney Pain Pain, pain continual; pain unending; Hard even to the roughest, but to those Hungry for beauty...Not the wisest knows, Nor most pitiful-hearted, what the wending Of one hours way meant. Grey monotony lending Weight to the grey skies, grey mud where goes An army of grey bedrenched scarecrows in rows Careless at last of cruellest Fate-sending. Seeing the pitiful eyes of men foredone, Or horses shot, too tired merely to stir, Dying in shell-holes both, slain by the mud. Men broken, shrieking even to hear a gun.--- Till pain grinds down, or lethargy numbs her, The amazed heart cries angrily out on God.
  8. 8. Robert Graves The Dead Fox Hunter We found the little captain at the head; His men lay well-aligned. We touched his hand - stone cold -and he was dead, And they, all dead behind, Had never reached their goal, but they died well; They charged in line, and in the same line fell. They well-known rosy colours of his face Were almost lost in grey. We saw that, dying and in hopeless case, For others sake that day Hed smothered all rebellious groans: in death His fingers were tight clenched between his teeth. For those who live uprightly and die true Heaven has no bars or locks, And serves all taste...or whats for him to do Up there, but hunt the fox? Angelic choirs? No, Justice must provide For one who rose straight and in hunting died. So if Heaven had no Hunt before he came, Why, it must find one now: If any shirk and doubt they know the game, Theres one to teach them how: And the whole host of Seraphim complete Must jog in scarlet to his opening Meet.
  9. 9. PoetryThese are the tools that a poet utilises: Form Structure Style Techniques
  10. 10. Poetic FormThis is simply the set of rules by which the poem isstructured. Blank Verse: Blank Verse is constructed with unrhymed/blank Iambic Pentameters. Sonnet: There are many different types. Most common is an Italian sonnet consisting on an octave and a sestet. The English/Shakespearian sonnet often finished with a rhyming couplet Quatrain, Cinquain, Sestet and Octave : depending on the number of lines (4, 5, 6, 8) Ballad: The basic ballad form is iambic heptameter in sestet or six line stanzas. The second, fourth and sixth lines rhyming.
  11. 11. MeterMeter is the way of forming a line of poetry so that it hasregular and equal units of rhythm. Iambic...........u / ......... the Foot Trochee ....... / u ........ Foot ing Anapest........ u u /........on the Foot Dactyl........../ u u ........Foot fall ing Spondee....... / / ........ In Sensed Pyrric ..........u u........ be gin
  12. 12. Poetic Structure Lines and Stanzas Rhyme Scheme
  13. 13. Lines and Stanzas •Poetry is written in lines Lines NOT sentences •Poetry is written in StanzasStanzas or Verses NOT Paragraphs •Sometimes a poem will be Single written as a single entityEntities and not be divided into a stanza
  14. 14. Rhyme SchemeThis is the pattern that signifies the arrangement of therhyme in a poem.TheyThe Bishop tells us: When the boys come back AThey will not be the same; for theyll have fought BIn a just cause: they lead the last attack AOn Anti-Christ; their comrades blood has bought BNew right to breed an honourable race, CThey have challenged Death and dared him face to face. CWere none of us the same! the boys reply. DFor George lost both his legs; and Bills stone blind; EPoor Jims shot through the lungs and like to die; DAnd Berts gone syphilitic: youll not find EA chap whos served that hasnt found some change. F And the Bishop said: The ways of God are strange! FSiegfried Sassoon
  15. 15. Poetic StyleStyle in poetry involves the method which a poet uses toconvey meaning, tone, and emotion in his/her poem. Meaning Tone Imagery
  16. 16. MeaningPoets use a range of techniques to conveymeaning. • Form: How is the poem Meaning written/structured? • Content: what is the Poem about? • How is Language used?Form + Content + Language = Meaning
  17. 17. ToneThe tone of the poem will reveal the poet’ssubjective views and attitudes. • Create Mood and Atmosphere. This is achieved through word Tone choice, rhythm and sounds of words. • Describing Tone: friendly, sharp, sarcastic, ironic, angry, humorous, condescending
  18. 18. ImageryImagery, often involving the senses, conjuresup word pictures. • These affect us emotionally and Imagery intellectually. • Poetry may use metaphors, similes or personification for comparisons. • The use of sound devices such as alliteration, assonance and onomatopoeia enhance imagery.
  19. 19. Poetic TechniqueDevices used in poems to create effect Simile: A simile is a direct comparison that always contains the words as or like. “He is as wealthy as Bill Gates” Metaphor: A metaphor is a comparison without the use of as or like. “He is a Bill Gates” Personification: Gives human qualities to inanimate objects or abstract ideas. “The clouds looked down and wept on the drought-stricken earth.” Allusion: This is either a direct or an indirect referral to a particular aspect. “Milton‟s epic poem, „Paradise Lost‟, deals with the biblical themes of the Temptation and the Fall of Man”. Alliteration: Is the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words. “Baby, bounces the ball.”
  20. 20. Poetic TechniqueDevices used in poems to create effect Antithesis: Compares and contradicts ideas or statements within a sentence. “Don‟t underestimate him; he‟s a mouse in stature, a lion in strength”. Oxymoron: Place two seemingly contradictory words next to each other. “The mother waved her son off to war with painful pride”. Paradox: A seemingly absurd or contradictory statement which, when analysed, is found to be true. “You will kill him with your kindness”. Irony: Implies the opposite of what is said. “I can‟t wait for my detention on Wednesday afternoon”. Sarcasm: Like Irony, is it used to highlight, expose or ridicule human, social or political weaknesses or stupidities.
  21. 21. Poetic TechniqueDevices used in poems to create effect Hyperbole: An over-exaggeration, not meant to be taken literally. “The teacher complained that she had hundreds of interruptions that day.” Euphemism: Expresses an unpleasant or uncomfortable situation in a more sensitive, kind and tactful manner. “He passed away”. Pun: A clever play on words, alike in sound but different in meaning. “Cricket Captain stumped!” Rhetorical Question: A question that expects no answer. “Why are we allowing stress to become an invisible enemy?” Synecdoche: In a synecdoche, a part is used for a whole, or a whole is used for a part. “Australia won the cricket”.
  22. 22. Analytical QuestionsStudents complete an analytical essay onone of the questions below: Choose a poet and a selection of his poetry (2 to 4 poems), and discuss how he writes about WWI and his experiences in it. What message does he try to get across to the reader? What feelings does he have in regards to war and fighting? Take examples of War Poetry that were written at various stages of the War. Evaluate the extent to which the examples chosen reflect the poets changing attitudes towards the War, and in turn, the extent to which the poems reflect the course of the War.
  23. 23. Writing an Analytical EssaySTAGE 1 STAGE 2Select yourquestion. STAGE 3 Select the Poet and/or Poetry STAGE 4 that you will be Annotate writing about. your poems Outline, the STAGE 5 for structure, main ideas for style, each Begin writing. technique paragraph. A Ensure that and overall paragraph for each paragraph each has a topic meaning. sentence, clear poet/poem would be a ideas and that good idea. they are supported with evidence.
  24. 24. Poetry: Marking RubricKnowledge and •Develop ideas that show your understanding of poetry Understanding and the way it was created. Analysis •Develop a point of view, connecting ideas from the poetry to your chosen question. Use technical language and refer to form, structure, style and technique. Application •Support your views/ideas with references and analysis form the poems you have selected.Communication •Write a well planned and well structured assignment that answers the question you have chosen.