University Of Oxford English Professor, Dr. Stuart Lee

1318 WordsJan 8, 20176 Pages
University of Oxford English professor, Dr. Stuart Lee argues that the First World War was "one of the seminal moments of the twentieth century in which literate soldiers, plunged into inhuman conditions, reacted to their surroundings in poems". Lee’s statement identifies the role played by First World War poetry played in not only commemorating the Great War but also allowing scholars to gain an insight into the brutalities of the conflict through this literature available. This essay will agree with the statement that First World War poetry has become one of the defining factors of Britain’s memory of the war, as it has acted as an avenue to access the real emotions and difficulties faced by the people, including soldiers, caused by the…show more content…
Also, the mocking tone of the poem indicates to the reader that the war may have been meaningless in the eyes of the soldiers, especially as it was a war of attrition. The conflict tested how long an army could endure the conditions and sustain morale. Achievements due to the efforts of the soldier were less visible and tangible. This perspective is further emphasised by Sassoon in “The Kiss” as he describes the “blind power” of the bullet reiterating the view that the conflict was futile. Even Rosenberg argues that the war was a time of mass slaughter and human sacrifice with little sense. Rosenberg sheds light on the artificiality of political barriers through the imagery of a rat in the poem “Break of the Day in the Trenches” where the rat “touched this English hand” and “will do the same to a German”. There is a sense of playfulness to the poem but there are overtones of bitterness. Although Rosenberg is discussing a broader theme here about the arbitrariness of political divisions and borders for non-humans, an interpretation is that the poet is hinting at the artificiality of the Great War. This again signifies a condemnation of the war and the fact that soldiers consider the war to be unnecessary during and after the war. The poetry of the First World War gives the audience an insight in the horrific realities of the war and the inhumane conditions. It is inaccurate to claim that brutalities only occurred during the Great War;

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