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Compare and contrast the poems 'Anthem for Doomed Youth' by Wilfred Owen and 'The Soldier' by Rupert Brooke. What are the poets' attitudes towards war and how do they convey these attitudes?

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Introduction

Compare and contrast the poems 'Anthem for Doomed Youth' by Wilfred Owen and 'The Soldier' by Rupert Brooke. What are the poets' attitudes towards war and how do they convey these attitudes? Wilfred Owen's "Anthem for Doomed Youth" and Rupert Brooke's "The Soldier" express opposing views towards war and matters related to it. Owen condemns war as the cause of immense and painful loss of youths, killed like animals. He also attacks the church, generally held to preserve human life and dignity, implying it is powerless and irrelevant in a war situation. Brooke expresses ready acceptance (his view is meant to be the general view) of possible death on his country's behalf in grateful return to her for having "bore, shaped and made aware" him and enriching him spiritually. There is no reference to the horrors and pain of war. Apart from the poets' different attitudes towards war, there are many other differences such as tone, imagery and language. In 'The Soldier', Brooke's sense of indebtedness to his country completely blots out any sense of loss or regret over possible death on her behalf. Brooke doesn't even mention war in his poem. He is ready to give "back the thoughts by England given". He accepts death in war as a suitable repayment to his country for what England has done for him. ...read more.

Middle

The poem ends with a peaceful tone "In hearts at peace, under an English heaven" reflecting Brooke's contentment with England in every way. The images in Brooke's poem are those of the best things England has given him. In the first stanza "flowers", "ways to roam", "rivers", "blest", "suns of home" are tangible. These are appropriate because he is dealing with his physical make-up. In the second stanza, Brooke talks about the intangible things that England has given to him "sights and sounds", "dreams", "laughter" and "friends". These have developed him spiritually. He also refers to "gentleness", "peace" and "heaven" to suggest the richness of spirituality - recalling "richer dust" made by England. Such images imply the greatness of England and the tranquillity of the mind after death. The line "And think, this heart, all evil shed away" also gives the image of a good-natured soldier. This line suggests that if a person dies for England, all his immorality will be "shed"; death is a release from evil, leaving a pure spirit. Owen condemns the wastefulness of war in the poem 'Anthem for Doomed Youth'. In war, numerous youths "die as cattle" as though Youth itself is decimated like animals. Young people at home suffer deeply in losing them. ...read more.

Conclusion

Owen has created a forceful rhythm in the first stanza to express his intense emotion. This rapid rhythm is created by the alliterative words like "stuttering rifles' rapid rattle", the onomatopoeic words "monstrous anger" and the repeated sentence patterns "only the monstrous anger...only the stuttering rifles...no mockeries...no prayers nor bells, nor any voice". The sarcastic tone and brisk rhythm are in keeping with Owen's angry attack of war and the church. However, in the line "And bugles calling for them from sad shires", anger gives way to pain. This line bridges the battlefield with home where the loss is deeply and universally felt. This loss is in two regions: the chaotic battlefield and home where all is quiet. It is suffered by Youth and even nature as mentioned earlier. Owen uses sarcasm effectively in bitterly condensing the decimation of Youth, as in the title, and the utter failure of the church in preserving life and human dignity, as in references to the sounds of war replacing those at a church funeral. The prevalent feature of this poem is Owen's skill in his use of the sounds of words. The onomatopoeic "stuttering...orisons", and "monstrous...guns" evoke the deadly stutter of machine guns and thundering of cannons dominating the battlefield. The 'm' and 'n' sounds and long vowels convey the sense of heavy grief. ...read more.

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