AS Level Poetry: Paper 3

Poems on War I

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Anthem for Doomed Youth

My Dreams are of a Field Afar


Language Questions:

1. Do you feel these three poems develop the notion of disillusionment and a certain disenchantment ? How do the poets employ various methods in each of the aforementioned poems?

2. In Lines 1-4 , Sassoon employs alliteration, rhyme, rhythm and assonance to present the landscape. How does he achieve the desired effect?

3.There is a sudden shift in the tone in the middle of line 4 in Attack. What does it lead to?

4.When does a sense of disarray and confusion sets in the poem? To what extent this sense of loss continue?

5. Compare:

  • ‘ And hope, with furtive eyes and grappling fists,/ Flounders in mud.O Jesus, make it stop!’
  • ‘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 good-byes.’

6. Compare the titles of the war poems of Housman and Owen.

7.The Octave of Anthem for Doomed Youth presents a death and a subsequent funeral offered. Identify the tone of the speaker towards it.


About Mrs. Nazir's Rhyme and Reason

Am I a bird for Maya Angelou? If yes, why do I and so many of you around me feel caged? why not free? Am I a free spirit, then?If yes, then why don't I locate my limits? Because I can see I have lost the way. The quest for enlightenment is taking me acknowledge just Him ..and this strife just becomes so rewarding and so assuringly peaceful when I see myself having adopted His favourite occupation- the one he designated to his prophets. What has obstructed this self -actualization so far?
This entry was posted in A Level Literature in English, Course No.9695, Paper 3 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to AS Level Poetry: Paper 3

  1. Language Questions
    1. In all the aforementioned poems, disenchantment with war and those promoting it, can be felt. In AFDY the title itself prepares the reader for further surprises because an ‘anthem’, a celebratory song is being sung for a country’s ‘youth’ which has been annihiliated. The irony and bitterness can be felt throughout the poem as the speaker talks of disparaged soldiers who ‘die as cattle’ and for whom only ‘hasty orisons’ are said.
    In MDAOAFA, the lines seem to be guilt- laced as the speaker retreats into his memory of ‘blood and smoke and shot’ – a brutally vivid image. The disillusionment with war and the motives behind it can be felt as the speaker talks of the ‘trade of man’-which is almost animalistic- reduces the position of man to that of a mere barter item. The speaker appears to look through the façade of ‘trade of man’ and is able to question the ‘lesson plain’- something the modern reader would associate with wisdom and bravery rather than cowardice.
    In ‘Attack’ the speaker uses a variety of stark images to compound the level of damage, loss and gloom afflicted by war- when ‘lines of grey’ – a pitiful image of soldiers with ‘muttering faces’- confused, now thatr they face reality which has utterly dispelled any notion of glory in war. Of more significance is the concluding metaphor where ‘hope…Flounders in mud’ suggesting that any hope that war ever offered was false, pretense, that there never was really any hope in war.

    2. Dawn in antithesis with dun- striking effect as dawn implying a new beginning is now only dear, dead and gloomy.
    Alliteration on ‘s’- slows the lines, almost a hissing sound so the reader takes in the height of damage incurred on the landscape.
    One by one- slows the line, prepares for more action

    3. The sudden shift in the tone shifts the gaze of the speaker to yet another scene. It is the time between a previous attack and one ready to roll in action.

    4. This sense of disarray and confusion sets in as men ‘jostle’while they are ‘clumsily bowed’ with the burden of weapons. The speaker continues to speak of ‘lines of grey’- where the soldiers have lost their personal identities and are reduced to a mere statistic. ‘muttering faces, masked with fear’ compounds the sense of confusion felt by the soldiers as their glorified image of war crumbles into pieces. This sense of loss- utter loss continues to the end of the poem where the speaker uses ‘hope’ as an extended metaphor for the soldiers who laid down their lives, who ‘flounder in mud’ , who flail helplessly as war brings death, doom and destruction. And nothing more.

    5. In both the lines, divinity becomes the final authority. As ‘hope flounders in mud’ – the youth of a nation is doomed to death, the soldiers can also be seen to die an honoured death, because being righteous and pure, they laid down their lives for their countries. While the first line cries out to God for halting all the violence, the second line seems to honour the soldiers by using religious diction.

    6. AFDY- heavy with irony
    MDAOAFA- dreamlike quality
    7. The speaker seems to be bitteer regarding the death of numerous, unnamed soldiers who cannot be given a proper funeral, but only a mass procession. His hostile attitude towards war can be felt as he further outlines the outrageous denial of funeral rights and the terrible repercussions that families face.

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