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Comparison between the poems "Dulce et Decorum est" by Wilfred Owen and "The Soldier" by Rupert Brooke

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Introduction

Comparison between the poems "Dulce et Decorum est" by Wilfred Owen and "The Soldier" by Rupert Brooke (2972 WORDS) "Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through the sludge" Line 1 and 2, Stanza 1 - Dulce et Decorum est (hereafter DD) These are the opening lines in the Wilfred Owen's poem "Dulce et Decorum est". This is a poem that is set during the First World War and mocks with disdain the phrase "Dulce et Decorum est pro patria mori" by showing the true and crude side of war. It was written in 1917 when he was at war. "If I should die, think only this of me: That there's some corner of a foreign field That is for ever England..." Lines 1 to 3, Stanza 1 - The Soldier (hereafter S) It is with these very elegant and finely written words that Rupert Brooke starts his poem "The Soldier". This poem is written as a sonnet and as such it is very neat and its structure is obvious. It has an organised rhyming pattern, ABABCDCD EFGEFG, which helps add to its very clean-cut look and sound. This too was written during World War One, more precisely, in 1914 and was originally entitled "The Recruit". Immediately, upon reading Brooke's words, one is struck with a warm feeling of happiness because this man does not seem to be afraid of death. With this idea, a feeling that patriotism and honour live in the hearts of soldiers that go to war, is born. Although Owen's poem does not mention death in the first lines, you can immediately tell that this poem is far from being a 'pretty' one. ...read more.

Middle

Panic is demonstrated through the use of exclamation marks, capital letters in the second 'Gas', short quick words, and the words 'ecstasy of fumbling'. The word ecstasy, one might think, is a little out of context because it is usually associated to bliss or enthusiasm. Here it is meaning is a nervous and even morbid state of anxiety and stress just this word helps the reader develop a psychological characterisation of the soldiers. "But someone was still yelling out and stumbling And floundering like a man in fire or lime -" Lines 3 and 4,Stanza 2 - DD Owen says that not every man is quick enough at waking up and putting on his mask and when describing what happened to the man who was struck by the gas (either Chlorine or Mustard) he compares his reaction to that of a man in a fire or lie. Being caught in a gas attack is not something people with no war experience will be familiar to so Owen, once more, compares the situation to one that people might be able to visualise - a man on fire. "As under a green sea, I saw him drowning". Line 7, Stanza 2 - DD The word 'drowning' literally says that the gas is surrounding the soldier and he can no longer breath. He is being asphyxiated. However, this word is more powerful than that - the idea of drowning in water is horrid. The sense of frustration felt by those who are drowning for must be incredible because the air is only a set distance away, if they could reach it then they'd be safe but the feeling that they cannot prevails. A similar situation occurs with gas - if the soldier could only take a few steps into the clear air then he might be able to live. ...read more.

Conclusion

He is just one of the many like him, who died this way and whom few will ever remember. He describes his feelings and uses detailed imagery to pass his idea - the last line are to me, the best lines of the poem for it is with them that the final message the poem has been building to, is transmitted. It is an excellent poem in every way, from the way it forces the reader to participate to the way it is laid out in an apparently random form to indicate chaos and confusion. To me, Brooke's poem is an insult to all those who have gone to war and lived through the horror and felt the pain, the sorrow, the despair of being on the verge of death and not knowing what tomorrow holds. Personally, I find that this poem fails to capture my interest. I do not mean this in a condescending way but because I've read Owen's poem, live in 21st Century and having seen the continuous news updates on war, terrorist attacks and bombings I feel that this poem has little effect on me. However, saying this I must take into account that this poem was written many years before I was born, in the year 1914, when the world had seen much less horror and weapons were much less developed. If I had lived in 1914, before both world wars then perhaps this poem would have filled my heart with patriotism and motivated me to join the army. I can only feel sorrow for the mothers of those who signed up and who lost their children in battle because of poems and propaganda like this one, which put ideas of wonder in innocent young minds. Margarida Santos Silva 11PWA 09-12-2002 ...read more.

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