The attitude towards war, one of loyalty towards country and countrymen, nationalism and patriotism prevailed before World War I. This attitude soon changed however, to one of anger, hate and pain towards war. According to ID2424546212 (2008), before men went to war and those that never entered into it, be it at the front or other brutal, face to face fighting, they had the idea that it is noble to fight for one’s country. Anyone that did not share this idea was frowned upon and would be made out to be a cowardly person.
This view point was drastically changed when men entered into battle. The men that was sent to the frontlines and battlefields and returned from them soon developed a hatred and anger towards war and those that started it. They saw, felt and knew the pain and horrors of war, whereas those higher up that never saw the actual battlefield continued to see war as noble and honourable. Family and friends of the slain had a change in attitude towards war also.
The change in attitude can be seen in poetry originating from the war era. There were many patriotic poems before the war propagating the war or written by people that did not really know the pains of war. One of these poems is “The Soldier” by Rupert Brooke. As said by a Harry G. Rusche (2009), Brooke never truly experienced war in all its glory. He knew not the horrors of it and therefore had a very romantically patriotic view of it and wrote such poetry. “The Soldier” is a sonnet that conveys the patriotic views of Brooke.
It sends the message that dying for one’s country is a great act of loyalty and it is therefore an honour to do so. Brooke uses romanticized, jovial and rich words to describe the feelings of a soldier that sees dying for his motherland as an act of love and gratitude towards what it has done for him. The emotions transferred from the poem are warmth, love and happiness to die for country and countrymen. “To the Warmongers” by Siegfried Sassoon on the other hand is written by someone that underwent the change of attitude caused by the frontlines.
Sassoon actually experienced the terrors of actual battle and thus wrote poetry that shows hatred and anger towards war and fighting. As stated by epli_ellifu (2004), this poem is written in short, strong, blunt lines that portray the brutality of war. The message conveyed by the words is that war is horrible and brutal but that war is made to seem glorious. The speaker in the poem says in the end that it is he and the surviours of the war that is wounded deeply as they saw the darkness and death of war. Sassoon uses language that conveys the message of pain and suffering.
This carries the emotions of pain, suffering, hatred and hopelessness on to the reader. According to lilplaya (2004), those that were slain, physically and mentally, had their spirits crushed. The human spirit was caused to reach breaking point and many of those that returned from battle were beyond repair. They might have saved a limb or all, but mentally and spiritually they were scarred by the atrocities of war. Though pain and suffering is the outcome of war, and though this is common knowledge, war will carry on and on and on.