I have chosen, and studied four poems, which were written trough the Victorian period. All the poems are describing different wars and battles that’s the British Empire had to go through. Although they are all about the same subject, they portray the experience of war in different ways.
The first poem I studied was ‘charge of the light brigade’ by Alfred Tennyson. This poem focuses about a suicidal charge in the battle of balaclava in the Crimean war 1854-1856. 637 men were charged and 247 of them were injured or killed. The charge was caused by an officer hearing an order incorrectly so this poem remembers all those that fought in the battle.
In the 1st stanza the rhythm is given straight away from ‘half a league’ at the start. There is also an order given ‘charge for the guns’ which was a stupid mistake from an officer. The shoulders would never question the officer so they carried it out, and the next line ‘into the valley of death’ is emphasised to make it stand out.Order now
Stanza 2 is mainly about how the shoulders realised the orders were not right but their job was not to question this.
Stanza 3 and 4 are about how they charged and how they couldn’t escape as it speaks about the canons. The last line ‘then they rode back, but not the six hundred’ describes how a lot of the men had been killed.
Stanza 5 mainly repeats stanza 3 but is written slightly different as stanza 3 is before the battle and stanza 5 is after.
In the last stanza it is focused on the bravery and honour of the six hundred. It says ‘When can their glory fade the wild charge they made! Honour the charge they made, Honour the Light Brigade, Noble six hundred! Â´
Through the poem he emphasises such things as like ‘the valley of DeathÂ´, ‘the jaws of DeathÂ´, ‘the mouth of Hell to describe the fate that awaits these men.
The repetition of ‘the six hundredÂ´ at the end of each stanza reminds the reader of the enormous loss of life, but at the end of the poem they have become the ‘Noble six hundredÂ´ and are celebrated as heroes.
The second poem I studied was ‘drummer Hodge’ by Thomas Hardy. This poem is about a young drummer fighting in the Boer war 1899-1902, South Africa.
The first line has a very dramatic start hardy doesn’t set the scene or anything like in ‘the charge of the light brigade’ he just goes straight in.
The poems starts with ‘they’ which makes you assume the poet is referring to someone the drummer knows. Also on the first line it says drummer Hodge is ‘thrown into a pit, just as found’ this meant that so many had died he had no coffin or head stone. It also doesn’t mention a service so he would have just been a normal shoulder.
Stanza 2 points out that he was young and didn’t even know why he was going to war.
Through the poem there is mentions about the landscape and in the last stanza it says about how drummer Hodge is now part of that landscape.
Through this poem drummer Hodge is not a hero he was just one shoulder to represent all those in the battle.
The third poem I studied was ‘vital lampada’ by Henry Newbolt. The title means ‘the torch of life’. The poem is all about the game of life, no matter what it is you are doing.
Stanza 1 describes excitement of the cricket game and how they are not playing just to win but just to play the game.
Stanza 2 is about the battlefield and how ad things are ‘the Gatlings jammed and the colonels dead’. There is also a repetition after each stanza ‘play up, play up and play the game’
Stanza 3 changes the poem back to cricket again ad explains how ‘the torch of life’ keeps going and leads the way.
The torch of life is need by the boys at school playing cricket to show them the way and its needed on the battlefield for encouragement so they can carry on fighting.
The last poem I chose was’ the going of the battery’ by Thomas hardy. It is about shoulders that leave their wives to go and fight. The poem was also set in the Boer war and the battery was the group of men.
The 1st stanza says about the women and how stupid they must have been to fall for the shoulders.
Stanza 2 explains how the shoulders are not thinking about leaving there families but they just want to go and fight ‘they step steadily- only too readily’.
Stanza 3 talks about the train and the guns, the first line ‘great guns gleaming there’.
Stanza 4 is about the last moment between the shoulders and their wives. The wives had one request, for the shoulders not to be heroes but just to come back, ‘not to court perils that honour could miss’.
In stanza 5 the battery move out and the women go and pray for the men, ‘aid for each women prayed for them’.
Stanza 6 is when they realise their men will not come back because a woman says ‘nevermore will they come: evermore are they lost to us’.
In stanza 7 it says about the hopes and fears of what will happen in the end.
Throughout this poem are alliterations, ‘through murk and through mire’. The poem is different as it has a narrator and the rhythm of the poem gives an optimistic feel.
By Samantha Maher.