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A comparison of the ways in which World War One is presented by Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon in their poetry with close reference to “Dulce et Decorum est” and “Anthem for Doomed Youth” by Owen and “The General” and &#1

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Introduction

WAR POETRY A comparison of the ways in which World War One is presented by Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon in their poetry with close reference to "Dulce et Decorum est" and "Anthem for Doomed Youth" by Owen and "The General" and "Base Details" by Sassoon. * * * The First World War marked a significant turning point in poetic tradition and history by the revolutionary styles and ideas expressed by the poets. Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon are probably two of the most well known war poets and their poetry was instrumental in this change. Prior to 1914, much poetry was written about wars such as the Crimean War in 1854-56 (The Charge of The Light Brigade by Tennyson who says, "Honour the Light Brigade, Noble six hundred.) but the great majority of the poets had not experienced war first-hand. Thus, they reinforced the poetic tradition of glorifying war and death. Both Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, who both fought through most of the First World War, use their poetry in the hope that they can give a more realistic impression of war than the pre-twentieth century poetry. Both Owen and Sassoon present World War One as unheroic, in direct contrast to pre-twentieth war poetry such as The Destruction of Sennacherib by Byron. At the very beginning of Dulce et Decorum est Owen describes the soldiers as 'Bent double, like old beggars under sacks'. ...read more.

Middle

The very last line of the poems refers to Harry and Jack who are named in the poem. This makes the general's attitude and incompetence more poignant and personal to the reader. "But he did for them both by his plan of attack." This short last line is to the point and cuts right to the quick. Sassoon does not play with words like Owen but presents World War One is his poetry in the most succinct way. The majority of his poems are no longer than three short stanzas whereas Owen's can be eight verses long. However, Sassoon's message is just as worthy as Owen's is. Base Details is probably Sassoon's best poem for attacking the generals as using harsh humour it describes them sitting in luxury hotels while men are starving on the front-line with rationed food. He presents the generals of the First World War as 'scarlet' and fat. Although the poem is short, he describes the generals so effectively that we have an image of the generals in our head which does not conform to what we might expect, or certainly not what was generally thought of generals before the war. The title of the poem can be read on different levels - the first being the simple meaning of the word as in headquarters, or on another level, the meanings of 'in short' or 'unworthy'. ...read more.

Conclusion

He generally uses alternate rhyme, except the last lines where he uses a rhyming couplet such as in Base Details 'dead' and 'bed'. In The General the last three lines have the same rhyme - 'Jack', 'pack' and 'attack'. The rhyming couplet gives emphasis to the end of the poem. Sassoon's poetry is short, pithy and succinct, conveying one or several points in maybe two or three short stanzas such as The General, which is only seven lines long compared to Owen's poetry which is usually longer. The style of Sassoon is more colloquial, using soldiers' slang such as 'He's a cheery old card,' grunted Harry to Jack.' and tends to be more vitriolic such as 'And speed glum heroes up the line to death.' Conversely, Owen uses descriptive and elaborate words that convey the atmosphere and images that the poems evoke, such as his unforgettable and shocking description of the dead man in the third stanza of Dulce et Decorum est. Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon present different aspects of World War One - Owen, the conditions and horrific deaths of the ordinary soldiers in contrast to Sassoon's pointed and bitter attack against the majors. They do this in very different ways and despite Sassoon's influence on Owen, their styles are extremely contrasting but no less effective. Their poetry helped mark a radical change in the way war poetry was written and it is their presentation of their themes that effected this shift. 03/03/02 Jessica Mead 1 ...read more.

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