Panoramic View of English War Poetry

Panoramic View of English War Poetry

  • Submitted By: viveksudha
  • Date Submitted: 02/07/2009 6:56 AM
  • Category: English
  • Words: 1296
  • Page: 6
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From the age of Great Epics to the Modern age, poetry has been written on almost all the subjects relating human life, however ‘War’ has been the most vital theme of the epics viz. The Ramayana, The Mahabharata, The Iliad and The Odyssey. The Ramayana, The Mahabharata, The Iliad and The Odyssey In the early poetry, war was glorified as it glorified the virtues of courage and heroism of the warriors. The great Greek epics The Iliad and The Odyssey, by Homer, are mainly concerned with the Trojan War. The Iliad, not only narrates the story of war against Troy, but also explores of the heroic ideals of war. It is the story of the wrath of Achilles, the greatest Greek warrior. Thus the nature of war poetry is exalted and vigorous in Greek epics. War is considered an act of honour and courage. Heroism and patriotism are the characteristics of the epic war poetry.

In the series of historical dramas, William Shakespeare treated war differently in various plays. In King Richard II, he depicts horror and futility of war. In Henry V, he depicts the horror of war. He compares the action of the tiger on his prey with war. In Coriolanus, Shakespeare says “The end of war’s uncertain” (5.3.145). Joseph R. Stromberg comments on early plays of Shakespeare:

Shakespeare’s early plays share in the martial values espoused by such figures as Sir Philip Sidney and Sir Walter Releigh. For such men of action, war “was an end in itself, the fundamental condition of social life, individual psychology and all creation.” (“Shakespeare, War” Par. 3)

The war poetry, written between 1793 and 1815, was not only idealistic, inspired by the French Revolution but also patriotic, when England encountered the Napoleonic wars. It had the enthusiasm of French Revolution as well as terror and defense against Napoleon. Southey started writing anti-war poetry but later he too became a firm supporter of war.

The War Poetry of the Romantic Age, depicts common man’s...

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