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    How do the poets studied use imagery and structure to convey their attitudes to the war? Essay

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    Pastoral imagery was traditionally used in pre-war poetry. Pre-war poetry conveyed the beauty and perfection of nature. When the war began the poetry conveyed a very patriotic idea of war. As the war carried on the old idea vanished that armies would be ceasing fire in autumn to retire into winter. This led to poetry to change its style. The poems use dramatic pastoral imagery, which was usually undermined by blunt statements.

    Julian Grenfells poetry uses a pastoral and patriotic style. ‘Into battle’ was written near the beginning of the war and shows a naïve idealism of it. The rhythm and structure of ‘Into battle’ is very hymnal and conveys a patriotic and jubilant idea of war in spring. Nature is personified throughout the poem;

    ‘the woodland trees that stand together’

    This line shows the strength of nature and how it is almost backing the soldiers as they fight and guiding them forward. The nature is personified as if it is protecting the soldiers. Repetition is used to emphasise the joyful spirit of the poem. The word ‘sing’ is used throughout the poem to suggest patriotism towards the war even though this is not the later idea of war.

    In later years the view towards war changed. This can be seen in the poem ‘Returning we hear the larks’ by Isaac Rosenberg. The title suggests a celebration of joy but instead it is a very brutal poem. It uses imagery but conveys a completely contrasting idea of war to that of ‘Into battle’;

    ‘Death could drop from the dark’

    Brutal sinister language is used and it is not positive about the war. There is an uplifting stanza in the poem;

    ‘But hark! Joy-joy-strange joy’

    This line almost sounds like the song of a lark. The stanza has a similar uplifting hymnal style that is similar to ‘Into battle’. It looks on the positive side of nature but then it is undermined with negative ideas about war and the certainty of death.

    ‘Exposure’ by Wilfred Owen was written out of experience. He went ot the front in the Somme sector in the bitter winter of 1916-17. The title is a word for a medical condition caused by the cold. Nature is personified throughout the poem;

    ‘mad gusts tugging on the wire’

    The wind is personified in an insane manner. I t is as if the wind is conveying how the soldiers are feeling. In ‘Exposure’ the soldiers are fighting against nature rather than nature helping them;

    ‘The winds nonchalance’

    Nature does not seem to care for them. This contrasts to ‘Into Battle’. In ‘Into Battle’ the weather helps them and is supporting them;

    ‘Day shall clasp him with strong hands’

    This contrast conveys the difference between the attitude at the beginning of the war and the attitude of those who fought in the war. This idea of nature not caring whether you live or die is also used in ‘All the Hills and Vales along’. In this poem nature is indifferent. The imagery conveys the fear of the bitter winter and the worry that they will not live to witness another spring.

    The form in ‘Exposure’ draws attention to the language. As seen before Grenfell uses strident rhythms and strong full rhymes of the hymn whereas ‘Exposure’ uses a different structure. The strong rhymes are replaced with stumbling and disorientating half-rhymes. Half rhymes are used for example ‘war’ and ‘wire’. It conveys how the men here inhabit a vague world of cold and monotony. These half rhymes are distressing to the reader because we are familiar with a perfect rhyme structure which is shown in ‘Into Battle’.

    The irregular variations in the wording in the last line of every stanza is slightly disconcerting to the reader. The reader is made alert by the structure of the poem. In the last line there always seems to be too many words and they are not proper sentences, which throws the rhythm out. Just like someone who has exposure this gives the impression of lack of concentration and the idea of drifting away.

    Earth and mud are used in many war poems. In ‘Into Battle’ earth is used with a reassuring effect;

    ‘The naked earth is warm with spring’

    This pastoral image brings hope of new life impending when spring approaches. A contrast to this is the use of mud in ‘Exposure’;

    ‘Will fasten on the mud and us’

    Owen purposefully puts mud before the soldiers showing that now the soldiers are lower than the earth. This contrast conveys the different views on war.

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    How do the poets studied use imagery and structure to convey their attitudes to the war? Essay. (2018, May 27). Retrieved from

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