War Poems: Compare and contrast a Pre-1900 war poem with a Post 1900 War Poem. (The two used here are "Come Up From The Fields Father" by Walt Whitman and "War Photographer" by Carol Anne Duffy

Essay by SeanMcQHigh School, 12th gradeA+, March 2003

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The first poem is a pre-1900 poem written by Walt Whitman. It is called "Come Up From The Fields Father". This poem tells the story of how a family hear the news that their son has been wounded in battle. Firstly it describes his sister receiving the letter and calling for her father and mother. The poet then goes on to describe the settings of the farm and the background to it.

"Where apples ripe in the orchards hang and grapes on the trellis'd vines."

"The sky so calm......below too, all calm, all vital and beautiful."

He sets the scene of a peaceful beautiful place. I think he does this for a number of reasons. Firstly, I think he does it just to set the background to show the reader where the boy lived and what his family were like. Another reason could be that he is showing to the reader that these are just ordinary people who really have no interest in fighting.

However, I think the message that Walt Whitman is really trying to portray, is the fact that everything is serene and going brilliantly until this letter arrives. He is trying to get across the idea that this war destroys normal families and stops them being happy. It creates a sad and empty atmosphere for them. The mother senses that something is wrong. She is shaking and is hurrying to see what is in the letter. We see this as Whitman uses short, stopped sentences, spoken quickly.

"Fast as she hurries, something ominous, her steps trembling."

As the mother gets the letter and realises that it is not her son's handwriting, but a strangers. This makes her panic and gives her a sickening feeling.

"O this is not our son's writing,