The War Correspondent Ciaran Carson - Weebly

The War Correspondent Ciaran Carson - Weebly

The War Correspondent Ciaran Carson Brief Historical Background The War Correspondent is a collection of seven poems, all but one set in the Crimea (1854-1856), which saw the British and French form an alliance against Russia. Gallipoli is that one exception and belongs to WW1 and is also known as the Dardanelles Campaign. It too involved a British and French alliance, fighting against the Ottoman Empire (Turkey). After 8 months of futile combat almost half a million were left dead or wounded. The story of Balaklava is told in Tennysons poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade. The Russians attacked the British base, the British cavalry commander mistook his orders to retake some guns and instead told his men to charge the main Russian position. 600 horsemen obeyed, 250 men were killed or wounded and 400 horses lost for no military purpose. The Charge is the best known example of the heroism and stupidity of war. First Reading Why has Carson chosen to write about two historic battles separated by 60 years? Do they have anything to say about contemporary conflicts? Gallipoli What senses are being appealed to here? What kind of place do these sensory impressions evoke? What other techniques are used to create the atmosphere?

What kinds of human activity are included? What might they be saying about the nature of war? Balaklava How is colour used to link different elements of war? What does this suggest about the narrators attitude to war? How are the uniforms significant? The War Correspondent 1 Gallipoli Take sheds and stalls from Billingsgate, glittering with scaling-knives and fish, the tumbledown outhouses of English farmers yards that reek of dung and straw, and horses cantering the mewsy lanes of Dublin; take a dirty gutter from a back street in Boulogne, where shops and houses teeter so their pitch roofs meet, some chimney stacks as tall as those in Sheffield or Irish round towers, smoking like a fleet of British ironclad destroyers; take and Irish landlords ruinous estate, elaborate pagodas from a Chinese Delftware dish

where fishes fly through shrouds and sails and yards of leaking ballast-laden junks bound for Benares in search of bucket-loads of tea as black as tin; take the garlic-oregano-tainted arcades of Bologna, linguini-twists of souks and smells of rotten meat, as labyrinthine as the rifle-factories of Springfield, or the tenements deployed by bad employers who sit in parlours doing business drinking Powers; then populate this slum with Cypriot and Turk, Armenians and Arabs, British riflemen and French Zouaves, camel-drivers, officers, and sailors, sappers, miners, Nubian slaves, Greek money-changers, plus interpreters who do not know the lingo; let the staple diet be green cantaloupes swarming with flies washed down with sour wine, accompanied by the Byzantine jangly music of the cithara and the multi-lingual squawks of parakeets dress them in turbans, shawls of fancy needlework,

fedoras, fezzes, sashes, shirts of fine Valenciennes, boleros, pantaloons designed by jobbing tailors, knickerbockers of the ostrich and the pink flamingo, sans-culottes, and outfits even stranger; O landscape riddled with the diamond mines of Kimberley, and all the oubliettes of Trebizond, where opium-smokers doze among the Persian rugs, and spies and whores in dim-lit snugs discuss the failing prowess of the Allied powers, requisition slaughter-houses for the troops, and stalls with sherbet, lemonade, and rancid lard for sale, a temporary hospital or two, a jail, a stagnant harbour redolent with cholera, and open sewers running down the streets; where prowling dogs sniff for offal beyond the stench of pulped plums and apricots, from which is distilled the brandy they call grape-shot, and soldiers lie dead or drunk among the crushed flowers I have not even begun to describe Gallipoli.

4 Balaklava The Turks marched in dense columns, bristling with steel. Sunlight flashed on the polished barrels of their firelocks and on their bayonets, relieving their sombre hue, for their dark blue uniforms looked quite black when viewed en masse. The Chasseurs dAfrique, in light powder-blue jackets, with white cartouche belts, scarlet pantaloons, mounted on white Arabs, caught the eye like a bed of flowers scattered over the valley floor. Waving high above the more natural green of the meadow were phalanxes of rank grass, marking the mounds where the slain of October 25th had found their last repose, and the snorting horses refused to eat those deadly shoots. As the force moved on, more evidences of that fatal day came to light. The skeleton of an English horseman had tatters of scarlet cloth hanging to the bones of his arms; all the buttons had been cut off the jacket. Some, indeed, were poppies red as cochineal, plucked from the rich soil, which bore an abundance of hollyhocks, dahlias, anemones, wild parsley, mint, whitethorn, rue,

sage, thyme, and countless other plants whose names I lack. As the Turkish infantry advanced, their boots creaked and crushed the springy flowers, and delicate perfumes wafted into the air beneath the April sky; the smell of sweating men and horses smothered flora. Round as shot, the bullet-skull had been picked clean save for two swatches of red hair. The remains of a wolfhound sprawled at his feet. From many graves, the uncovered bones of the tenants had started up, all of them lacking boots. Tangled with rotted trappings, half-decayed horses lay where theyd fallen. Fifes and drums struck up a rataplan; so we wept on over our fellow men-at-arms under the noon sun in our buttoned-up jackets. Another Reading Gallipoli These crowded scenes are teeming with chaotic movement, enacted by densely packed lines and sensory detail creating a melting-pot of humankind. There is also the human activity of buying and selling, is everything up for grabs?

Balaklava Living soldiers march over the ground where the Charge of the Light Brigade took place, the graves are described in great detail. Why? The contrast between the living and dead is vividly expressed. How/Why? The conflict between humans and nature is also described the landscape has already been polluted by warfare and the poem presents another tide of war seeping over this contested landscape. How effective is this? During The Crimean War Russia was fighting against Britain and France, during WW1 Russia was an ally of Britain and France what is the point of war? The juxtaposition of two conflicts 60 years apart draws attention to the point humankind is addicted to war. Would you agree?

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