Comparison of "Dulce et decorum est" by Wilfred Owen and "The Soldier" by Rupert Brooke.
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"Dulce et decorum est" by Wilfred Owen and "The Soldier" by Rupert Brooke are the two poems which I have chosen to analyse. Rupert Brooke was the "golden boy" of poetry at this time. He died of malaria in 1915 during active service in World War One. Often used in the war, this sonnet was popular for recruitment purposes. "The Soldier" is about an unnamed soldier in an unnamed war writing to his family at home expressing his wishes, if he never returns from war. As this poem is a sonnet, it is not of considerable length being only fourteen lines long. Wilfred Owen came from a more humble family and took active service in World War One in which he became a junior officer. During the war, he became a poet to reflect on the experiences of the fighting which gave him the title of the most celebrated of war poets. He died tragically a few weeks before the armistice. His poem "Dulce et decorum est" is a poem that is written in three stanzas, but may be split in to four, which contradicts the perception of patriotism that is present within the unfinished title. "The Soldier" is a poem written in the form of a Petracikian sonnet and articulates a happy and reassuring tone shown in the lines "If I should die, think only this of me: That there's some corner of a foreign field That is forever England." These lines written in the conditional tense are also hypothetical. He speculates when he writes, "If I should die." He is not guaranteeing that he will or will not die just what he wishes to happen if such an occurrence takes place.
Many had lost their boots But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind; Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots... Gas! Gas! Quick boys!" The slow and steady movement of time felt whilst reading the beginning of this extract is due to the subdued and disheartening attitude of the soldiers. The placement of words directly reflects the fatigue felt by the weary boys. The image of them marching slowly, bloody and 'drunk', evokes similar feelings of tiredness in the reader which are quickly interrupted by 'Gas! Gas! Quick boys!'. These last few words of the passage come across as though one of the soldiers is saying them, even though it is the persona trying to communicate a message of cautiousness to the soldiers and at the same time reinforce the reality of these events to the reader. As a reader, I feel the relative stillness of the men's quiet attitude being quickly interrupted by these 'loud' words. A contrast is established. This image, and the one of the lone soldier dying 'awakens' the minds of the people who read the poem to the reality of war as being a terrifyingly sad way for young people to die, and that ideology of patriotism and honour is the cause of such sickening circumstance. Owen is, effectively, placing the blame of the war's consequences squarely on the shoulders of the society that supports it. The language in this poem is quite simple yet vivid, encouraging the reader to understand the situation and to be emotionally 'awakened' in the process. In particular, Owen wants to bring home the realities of war to the 'boffins' as well as the relatively sheltered public.
That there's some corner of a foreign field That is forever England" "Dulce et Decorum Est" on the other hand has more sharp short sentence patterns shown in the lines "Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!" Both poems are full of imagery and use many forms to emphasise the language such as alliteration "Men marched asleep," onomatopoeia "sludge...trudge...hoots" and personification "whom England bore, shaped..." The images created in each poem differ strongly. "The Soldier" creates a positive image of the situation that is occurring within the poetry and has a happy and reassuring tone that expressed by happy memories lightens the feeling of sadness. On the other hand, "Dulce et Decorum est" creates a negative image as it mentions death and the pain and suffering that is caused by the war effort. The messages attempted to be made to the readers of the poems are also very different in many ways. "The Soldier" wants a happy and reassuring message to be expressed. This was gathered from the lines "In hearts at peace" and "this heart, all evil shed away" "Dulce et Decorum Est" has a more need for desperate glory feeling. The last two lines can achieve this feeling when the title reoccurs in its full format "The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria moi (It is sweet and fitting to die for your country)" Overall, I have concluded that "The Soldier" is trying to influence and praise patriotism in young soldiers while "Dulce et Decorum Est" claims that being patriotic is wrong and should not be encouraged. Personally, I prefer "The Soldier" as it has more flowing language and puts forth a greater meaning than "Dulce et decorum est" Homework 08/05/2007 Compare And Contrast Two Poems on The Theme Of War Mariann Jones Page 1
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