”Who’s for the Game” by Jessie Pope

Who’s for the Game” was written by Jessie Pope to encourage young men to fight. This was basically propaganda; it exploited the idea that it was a young man’s duty to go and fight for their country. This is apparent in the first two lines of the poem; the author makes us feel that war is not excruciating pain, but “just a game”…

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“Who’s for the game, the biggest that’s played”, “The red crashing game of a fight”. These opening lines make us feel that war is a big game, and fighting is just people playing games to enjoy themselves, therefore this portrays the idea of war as being enjoyable, almost like a pastime. When people read this poem it makes them think subconsciously that war is enjoyable. Jessie Pope also promotes patrotism by saying that going to war is “giving your country a hand”. “Who’ll give his a country a hand” she appeals to their passion for fighting their country, over their fear of being killed. There was such an affinity with patriotism that by reading just this one line would make men join the war because they wanted to help their country.

Jessie Pope also feels that war is like a big show and that the people staying at home are merely the audience, and not being part of this show, i.e. not playing a part in leading their country to victory. “Who wants to turn to himself in the show?” and “Who wants a seat in the stand”. Jessie Pope thought of war as a mindless riot and the only motivations for men going to war was to shoot someone and hold a gun, this is shown when she wrote “yet eagerly shoulders a gun”. The writer thinks that men would want to come back with a crutch, or some injury, as this would be their ‘souvenir’ from the war. She thinks that every man would want an injury as evidence of their bravery/suffering, rather than lying in the trenches and being out of the so-called ‘fun’. Jessie Pope also thinks that men who have returned unscathed from war didn’t have any fun; she thinks wars’ are all fun and games.

“Who would much rather come back with a crutch than lie low and be out of the fun” “Your country is up to her neck in a fight, and she’s looking and calling for you”. This is a subliminal message that audience will rise to the challenge. Perhaps this is not an appropriate style of communication to describe war. The repetition of the word “who” followed by a question; she is questioning the audience and in the finnal two lines of the poem she tells us, who this “who” is. It is a direct appeal to you, the audience. She uses this direct appeal to the audience to emphasise She personifies the country as being feminine, as it is every man’s duty to protect or save their women. It is also therefore every man’s duty to protect their country; thus making them a hero. Throughout the poem she uses simple language, that everyone can understand, to appeal to a widespread audience.

The poem is written so that the reader feels Jessie Pope is actually speaking to them, and therefore has an immediate effect. (As the poem was published in the Daily Mail, it would have been read by thousands of people). The tone of the poem is positive and seems like an idealistic adventure story, which is totally opposite to the realities of war. I feel that when men read this poem they would be by her patronising and threatening powers of persuasion. They would feel manipulated into feeling guilty for not “doing their duty”. The poem would probably have been read with a buoyant, upbeat tone of voice. I feel that the writer was naive about war and felt that she could explain war without actually experiencing it. As war progressed, the feeling of patriotism gradually diminished, as the death-toll was escalating daily, people came to realise that war was not all glorious and began to take in the realities. It was harder to comprehend the ideals of patriotism and duty when soldiers were returning with their true accounts of what had actually happened, and poetry was written to explain war and how it really is.

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