How important is landscape in some of the literature you have studied on the Great War?
In 1914 world war one had only just begun. The style of poetry was changing and more poets were beginning to establish themselves. These poets contributed to a new anthology called ‘Georgian poetry’. These poems contained a lot about the physical aspects of England and especially the green, pastoral ideal of England. These poems became not just descriptions of England but the very reason soldiers were so willing to fight. The earth and landscape embodied all that the soldiers were fighting for.
Because of this the landscape of England became a symbol that was predominant in many war poems.Ivor Gurney used a lot of important imagery in his poems. ‘To his Love’ and ‘Near Vermand’ are two poems I will look at of his.In the poem ‘To his Love’ the speaker talks about the Cotswolds, this giving the pastoral, idyllic image of England. ‘Where the sheep feed quietly and take no head’, this line gives a very peaceful and tranquil image and creates a large contrast of the war.This theme continues with a very calm and natural image as it goes on, ‘on Severn river under the blue’.
The colloquial language used also emphasises the fact of the unspoiled image of the landscape around them. The ‘violets of pride, purple from Severn side’ are used very effectively contrasting with the harshness of the war that killed the young man.’Near Vermand’ is another Ivor Gurney poem that uses landscape imagery.In the second line of the poem, the reader talks about’ time to watch the stars’. This shows how the landscape was important to escape from the brutality of the war.The ‘Cotswold spinnies’ are also mentioned giving another contrast to the war.
This being because where the soldier is there is war and destruction but by just looking to his left the ideal, woodlandImagery is shown. The landscape image is used again to highlight the pain and hurt of war, not only mentally but physically too, ‘But loathing and fine beauty, and wet clothing’.’Dead Man’s Dump’ written by Isaac Rosenberg contains images of landscape in many different ways.Rosenberg personifies the earth as the landscape and uses it as an escape from the war for the soldiers. The war is that terrible that it is no longer thought terrible to die, ‘Earth! Have they gone into you!’In the seventh stanza the earth is personified again. Instead of the usually good and bounteous image that is given to the earth, Rosenberg describes it as ‘Maniac Earth!’The descriptions are continued, ‘Dark Earth! Dark Heavens!’ This language is used to emphasise the destruction of Earth and its landscape and even making the ‘bounteous’ earth ‘dark!’Wilfred Owens’ poem ‘Spring Offensive’ shows the importance of landscape from the very first line.
‘Halted against the shade of a last hill’ this gives the image of a hilly landscape that the soldiers are using as their last shelter before going over the top. The landscape is being used as protection. This could be thought of in a mental way as well as physical as the hill is also protecting the soldiers from the harsh mentality of war.In the third stanza the landscape image is important to show the natural beauty of the world compared to the war. It puts the war in perspective and highlights the destruction of the war. ‘And the far valley behind, where the buttercups had blessed with their slow boots coming up.
‘The use of picturesque language in the fifth stanza shows the beauty before the war and accentuates the horrific events taking place.The poem, ‘The soldier’ by Rupert Brooke shows landscape as something the soldiers are willing to die for.’ That there’s some corner of a foreign filed that is forever England.’ This illustrates the landscape that represents England. The landscape is important to be shown as picturesque and something to believe in and die for.’Washed by the rivers, blest by sun’s of home.
‘ The image used here makes England something to be proud of and worth fighting for.D.H Lawrence’s article on the war helps show the natural beauty of the world before the war.’..
.Beautiful blue sky, and white clouds…this is just a year ago but it seems to belong to some period outside of time.
‘Lawrence then writes a huge paragraph about landscape. He describes ‘a beautiful greenish globe of light’ this presumably being a bomb. ‘It was beautiful beyond belief. Then dark.’ This shows how the war effects everything in the landscape emphasising everything around whilst the bombs blow up. Lawrence is totally unaware and detached from his emotions at this time and is writing like an outsider jus looking at the view.
This shows how much of an escape the landscape was from war.Landscape is very important as an escape from the war as well as being the reason to fight in war. The landscape also shows how unnatural the war is. The way the landscape contrasts with the war shows what damage was caused and helps readers of the present day to understand more about the damage war caused.