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Compare pre twentieth century poem "The man he killed" by Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), and twentieth century poem "Dulce et Decorum est.", by Wilfred Owen.

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Introduction

The pre Twentieth century poem I have chosen is, "The man he killed" by Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), and the poem I have chosen that was written after the Twentieth century is, "Dulce et Decorum est.", by Wilfred Owen. Both these poems are about war, life during and after these treacherous times, and its lasting effects. In Hardy's poem, the poet adopts the persons of a war veteran in the Boar war. The poem is about his actions in this war and their lasting effects. The poet talks of the person he shot, of how this person was just like him, "of hand like- just as I". How they could have met as friends in some "ancient inn" and could have shared a drink together, but instead they met as enemies, because they were on opposite sides in this battle. The language used backs up this statement; "I shot at him, as he at me". This indicates that the poet had to shoot this person as, it was what he was there to do and it was either himself or his victim who was to die. Then as the poem progresses, the poet tries to explain why he carried out the act, saying he, "shot him dead because- because he as my foe." This indicates that the poet sees the fact that this person was on the other side of the battlefield as a just reason to take his life away, but the break up in the sentence and the repeating of the word "because", indicates some hesitation in the poet's explanation. ...read more.

Middle

"All went lame, all blind Drunk with fatigue". Owen indicates to us that these men are so worn out, and so lost in their surroundings that they remain oblivious to the "hoots of gas-shells dropping softly behind them". Then Owen goes into describing the actions of the soldiers in a life or death situation. The pace of the poem speeds up dramatically. As the soldiers scurry to protect themselves from the gas shells that are raining down on them from above. Their actions are described as "an ecstasy of fumbling", indicating how this sudden rush, was of both, fear and adrenalin, as the men hurry to put on their masks. Then suddenly the pace of the poem slows right down, as the readers learn of a poor soldier who was to late. A frightening and graphic image is painted for the reader, who learns of the slow and painful death of a person who inhaled the fatal poison of the shell gas. "And floundering like a man in fire or lime". Then we are told how the other soldiers look on as their comrade drowns in his own body fluid, surrounded by the green light of the chlorine gas, "As under a green sea, I saw him drowning." Then the poet goes on to tell us how this image of, this persons death before him, comes back to him at night, haunting his dreams. He cannot escapes from the torment of the war. ...read more.

Conclusion

But as the poem progresses, and the reader becomes more familiar with the meaning of the poem, it may become apparent to them that the person Owen means, is those who advocate war, and uses such blind patriotic slogans such as this. Both poems are effective in bringing out the horrors of war, both during and after. They both describe to their readers how, war has so many lasting effects. So many lives are destroyed, either my deaths, or by peoples part in the war. Many soldiers come away from war situations mentally and physically scared, and find it hard to go back to a normal life routine, examples of this is in Owens poem, where we are told of how his sleep if affected by the images of the death of his fellow soldier. Personally I prefer the poem "Dulce et Decorum Est". I feel this poem has more life, and is more effective in its purpose, to bring across the horrors of war. I feel this poem is more personal to its audience and through the language he uses, the audience are able to paint a better visual picture of the scenes of war in the poem. Owen uses effective descriptions of the soldiers and the scenes, where as Hardy's language is quite vague and basic. I feel that Owens poem is different, and unique, the readers don't know what to expect, and don't know what is coming next. The title of the poem leads the reader into expecting to hear reasons why it is so rewarding to die for your country, and then find that the poem is about the complete opposite. ...read more.

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