Name Instructor Class 1 February 2012 Heroism: The Honor and Depravity of War When a soldier or his enemy falls, human civilization collapses with them too. Five poems about war capture the heroism and depravity of being a soldier in wars that they have no control of…
These poems argue that wars are honorable because of the courage they involve, but they are still immoral because soldiers and their enemies are treated as mere pawns, dehumanized because of their mission to strike and kill without compunction, and stripped of their rights to autonomy, survival, and a good life with their families. To be a soldier is a noble calling because to live by its principles is an honorable thing. The basic principles of war, based on these poems, are courage, commitment, and selflessness. Lovelace may be referring to Lucasta as a woman whom the soldier loves, or all his loved ones in general. He explains to her the reasons of going to war, despite having the option of staying in the blissful arms of his beloved. The “Nunnery” means that the place of his beloved is pure and good, but it is not a man’s place (Lovelace 1.2). The “Arms” of war are more suited to a real man, where war is seen as a testing ground for manhood: “To War and Arms I flee” (Lovelace 1.4). The speaker agrees that war is another mistress; it takes so much time, attention, and resources: “True, a new Mistress now I chase” (Lovelace 2.1). ...
The “stronger Faith” signifies that war is a holy quest. The decision to go to the war is an honorable responsibility. It means that honor in war is about protecting one’s country, something that can be done only out of the purest of intentions, the purest of love: “Yet this inconstancy is such/As you too shall adore” (Lovelace 3.1-2). Soon, Lucasta will realize what he means. He depicts that Lucasta is then fortunate, for in honoring the war, he honors her even more: “I could not love thee, Dear, so much,/Loved I not Honour more” (Lovelace 3.3-4). The greatest love comes from loving the society as a whole, not just one’s mistress or family, for in protecting their societies, they are protecting their families too. Another poem agrees that being a soldier is an honorable calling because of the courage, dedication, and selflessness it requires. Lord Alfred Tennyson, in “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” refers to an actual battle, where the English Light Brigade charged to a suicidal mission in the Crimean War. The tone of the poem honors the soldiers, but the feelings of exhaustion and resentment are present. In the first stanza, Tennyson says: “Half a league, half a league,/Half a league onward” (1.1-2). He repeats the phrase “half a league” three times in a row, suggesting tiredness. Soldiers get weary from their missions, but they must never falter, as if they are not supposed to feel tired at all. Tennyson does not mince words, when he introduces the fate of these soldiers: “All in the valley of Death/Rode the six hundred/ “Forward, the Light Brigade!/Charge for the guns!” he said (Tennyson 1.3-6). He knows that these soldiers are doomed because they will be charging for the guns. The soldiers ...
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