Portrayal of War in the Pre 1900 Poetry Essay

3056 Words13 Pages
Portrayal of War in the Pre 1900 Poetry

Before 1900, war was always seen as a glorious thing. People truly believed in the words of the ancient writer Horace, "Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori." This phrase can be translated, as "It is a lovely and honourable thing; to die for one's country". Pre 1900 war poetry was strongly patriotic and glossed over the grim reality of death, preferring instead to display the heroic aspects of fighting. If death was mentioned, it was only in a noble and glorious context. As there was no media coverage of war, the non-combatants did not know the true story. Poets like Alfred Lord Tennyson, who never actually participated in any war, did not portray a
…show more content…
He begins by admitting that there is a risk of being killed, but says that in that case it is better that there will only be a small number of people who will be killed.

"If we are mark'd to die, we are enow

To do our country loss;"

He goes on to say that if there is victory, there will be a greater share of glory and honour to be divided out among those that come through the battle.

King Henry goes on to say

"That he which have no stomach to this fight,

Let him depart."

The king was prepared to pay for the return to England of any man that was not willing to die. Henry was trying to proof to his troops that even though they were drastically outnumbered, if they were united they would be a match for the enemy.

From this point on, there is no reference of death. This was a good way psychologically of building up the morale of his men. By dwelling only on what glory and honour would come with the ability of saying that you fought at Agincourt with King Henry would help the men forget that death could be imminent. King Henry reminds the men that the battle was to be fought on "Saint Crispin's day" and that each year his men would be able to celebrate with their neighbours the health of themselves and their leaders. The king also mentions how that they will be able in years to come to look at their scars and say "These wounds I had on Crispian's day". This
Get Access