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A comparison of 'Dulce Et Decorum Est' and 'Exposure' by Wilfred Owen, showing how his poetry relates to the literary tradition of war poetry.

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Introduction

Bethan Davies A comparison of 'Dulce Et Decorum Est' and 'Exposure' by Wilfred Owen, showing how his poetry relates to the literary tradition of war poetry. Traditional war poetry gives the idea of patriotic idealism of war. This style of poetry implies that war is patriotic and that people who fight for their country are honorable. But many of the poets do not portray war as it really is, by glossing over the gory details with attractive images. Many traditional war poems were written before the war to persuade and encourage young boys to become loyal soldiers. Many of the soldiers were taught to believe that they were the chosen few and they were delighted to take part. They even thanked God, 'Now, God be thanked, Who had matched us with His hour'. The capital 'H' on 'His' implies the importance; meaning that 'His hour' is God's war. This makes the soldiers even more delighted and thankful. And the worst occurrence would be death. But as it says in 'The Soldier' by Rupert Brooke, death doesn't last long and everybody shall die at one point, so why not die honorably for your country? Owen and many other ww1 poets were a contrast to traditional poems. They wrote about war realistically. They wrote from personal experience. ...read more.

Middle

They believe they are in a totally different surroundings. They think that they are lying asleep in the sun when really they are lying in the bottom of a cold trench in soaking wet clothes. They are dreaming of typical English summers - of home. The soldiers turn away from God during the war. They lose their love and trust in him. They no longer feel that God is on their side, they think that he's producing the frost and mud. Also in 'Dulce Et Decorum Est', Owen addresses the reader to drag us in. The quotation, 'His Frost will fasten on this mud and us', this sentence proves this as God is referred to as 'His' throughout the poem. Whereas in 'Peace', 'Now, God be thanked', shows that God is standing by them. Through the poem ' Exposure' the soldiers are referred to as 'we', 'us' and 'our'. This makes the reader feel more involved and as if the reader are with the soldiers experiencing it first hand. It also gives the reader the impression of all the soldiers being united as a contemporary family or community that have trust in one another. In the last stanza Owen has used some effective vocabulary to bring the poem to a close, by leaving the reader to decide what the words means to me. ...read more.

Conclusion

Owen was outraged that Pope had compared the war to a game. In his poem he made sure the public, poets and soldiers knew the full terrors of the war. Mackintosh's poem 'Recruiting' tells a tale of propaganda, willing young men to come and fight, but with the hint of reality telling them that they will die. Compared to 'Dolce et Decorum est' and 'Exposure' the poems written by Pope, Brooke and Mackintosh do not tell of the horrors in the war. Owen's poems are based on personal experience. Although Siegfried Sassoon helped Owen with 'Dulce Et Decorum Est' the poem turned out as a mixture of their personal, first hand experiences of the war. Owen met Sassoon at Craiglockhart War Hospital near Edinburgh. The two men worked together to write 'Dulce Et Decorum Est', this partnership worked particularly well as both men had experiences of war and could express themselves in their poems. Although 'Dulce Et Decorum Est' and 'Exposure' are different poems, they have their similarities. They are both written by a man who was awarded the Military Cross for bravery at Amiens, they both have the same theme (war and the effects, both short term and long term) and both are superbly written. Wilfred Owen experienced the terrors of war first hand and filtered his experiences into his work. That is why 'Dulce Et Decorum Est' and 'Exposure' are such wonderful, emotive and interesting poems. Their writer had first hand experience of the horrors of warfare. ...read more.

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