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E408 Poetry of the First World War - E408 Poetry of the...

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E408 Poetry of the First World War Final Essay: Love & War. Amy Sweeney 05397065 Date Submitted: Word Count:
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The concept of ‘Love and War’ being comparable has been acknowledged through the ages. For those who have experienced both war and love, they have “known that there is a curious intercourse between them” 1 . The First World War was documented through the eyes of the soldiers on the front and those on the ‘home front’ also. The medium for this documentation was war poetry, and this poetry was considered the love poetry of the age, accounting for the circumstances that the war brought with it. It was through the language and technique of this poetry that the idea of ‘Love and War’ was expressed. In this instance, language was not neutral and passive, but powerful and symbolic. ‘Love and War’ as an idea, can be traced in the education of the young men who became mobilised in the war efforts. Greek mythology featured in the curriculum at the time at one can observe the impact that its stories had. Mars was the God of war and Venus the Goddess of love. Through their union their son Eros was born. Eros is sexual. This came into being through the poetry of the time. This paper will source the sexual content in the literature and discuss it in relation to both heterosexual and homosexual tendencies. After looking beneath the surface of the poetry of the First World War, one can see that it and the poets themselves concerned themselves with sexual impact of language. Even in the description of military attacks, words are most important; assault, impact, thrust, penetrate, these all are words symbiotic with war and sexuality. The whole idea of war itself is that it is a great sexual relief. As Fussell indicates “the atmosphere of emergency and the proximity of violence will always promote a relaxing inhibition ending in a special hedonism and lasciviousness” 2 . Given that death was the ultimate sexual relief, it is understandable that the poetry 1 Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory (Oxford University Press, New York, 1975), p 270.
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