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comparison and contrast of two poems: 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' and 'Dulce et Decorum est'

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Introduction

A comparison and contrast of two poems: 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' and 'Dulce et Decorum est' Arash Behrooz 5 May 2005 In 1798 a new era began in English poetry called the Romantic age. This age provoked the thinking of new radical ideas and thoughts and the writing of these ideas in poems. The poets included Samuel T Coleridge, Alfred Lord Tennyson and William Wordsworth. Some of their ideas and thoughts include: 1) Rebellion against tyrannical and despotic governments and leaders. These feelings were inspired by the recent French and American revolutions. 2) Strong sense of beauty in the natural world around them. Some romantic poets even took to worshipping nature! 3) Sympathy with poor, humble people. 4) Vivid imaginations. The Romantic poets often made fantastic new ethereal worlds. 5) Interest in ancient legends and traditions. 6) A sense of melancholy and loneliness. 7) They often expressed much vitality and emotion in their works. In this essay I will try to see if the romantic poem I will be examining has these ideas incorporated in it. The two poems I will be looking at are both on war but by different authors, with different ideas about war, in different times. I shall examine 'The Charge of the Light Brigade', by Alfred Lord Tennyson and 'Dulce et Decorum est', by Wilfred Owen. I will compare the two poet's attitudes towards war by examining the context, structure style and language of both poets. The first poem I will be examining is 'The Charge of the Light Brigade', by Alfred Lord Tennyson. The poem is a secondary account of the infamous charge the English Light Brigade made on the 25th October 1854 in the Battle of Balaclava which was part of the Crimean War. To examine the poem we need to know the historical background of the things it is describing. To put it plainly the Crimean War really had nothing whatsoever to do with Great Britain. ...read more.

Middle

However, I do not agree with the poet. I do not find dying in a war a heroic feat, unless you have saved many people in the process. I definitely do not think going to the battle field and killing other people for such a futile reason as 'protecting your allies' that heroic. Seeing people's heads and limbs flying through the air as they have been dismembered by a cannonball, and having to do that kind of thing yourself, would rather make you the victim. I certainly admire the soldier's braveness even when they knew the order was blundered, to obey unquestioningly. That is what I believe is brave, but they did not die heroically or as a sacrifice, I mean they didn't save the country, or another regiment in the process; they were simply wasted lives because of a mistake, and that is not deliberate braveness. So in that light, I believe Tennyson is wrong. Definitely the poem has made me think but only as to what I would do if I were one of the Light Brigade. The next poem I will be analysing is 'Dulce et Decorum est', by Wilfred Owen. This poem is similar to 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' in a few ways. Firstly, and most obviously, both of them are about war. However, whereas 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' contains lots of Romantic imagery and ideas this poem doesn't. Like 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'. This poem also acknowledges that soldiers have a hard time in battles, especially when the odds are against them. However, in contrast to 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' Owen believes that having a hard time doesn't necessarily make you a hero. The poem 'Dulce et Decorum est' is set on a World War I battlefield. It is a first hand account (Owen being a soldier in the battle and not just a newspaper reader like Tennyson!) of a gas attack of which there were many in World War I. ...read more.

Conclusion

but also its morals and the poet's beliefs are that of mine (unlike 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'). It is very effective in carrying across its message of war being bad and not being honourable to die in one. It shows you that the poet thinks young men are lured into war by generals who just sit on the sidelines and will die healthily in their sleep decades after the war. It shows us what happens to the ordinary men who join up, their expectations from childhood and the real thing. This poem has also made me understand something I wondered about before reading it: why there are people whose jobs are army psychologists and why there are buildings used by the military called sanatoriums. As I come to the end of my essay I've learnt two very important points of view that were used in the past. Firstly about the chivalrous Romantic era on which countless war movies have such ideas in. Honour and fighting till the end whatever the outcome are the main ideas. This will certainly appeal to people who want to hold that point of view but for a realist like me I see through the flashing sabres and the valley of death and see butchered men and mourning families at home. Tennyson never incorporates that in his poem. Secondly I come to the deeply dark and realist first hand views of Owen who explains to me the real story and no beating about the bush. His views are crystal and have made me think rather than the non human termed, honour for our land thoughts of Tennyson. Owen actually made me think about the men being the uniforms. To sum up I like both poems very much but it's clear to me what's real and what's not, what's about human beings and not 'soldiers' and all the word suggests (brave, never sick, willing to die) and finally what's moral to me as a human and what's not. ...read more.

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