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Comparison of War Poetry: Dulce et decorum est and the charge of the light Brigade

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Comparison of War Poetry: Dulce et decorum est and the charge of the light Brigade Although both 'Dulce et Decorum Est´ and 'The Charge of the Light Brigade´ are about battle and the death of soldiers, they both portray the experience of war in very different ways. The Charge of the Light Brigade tells us of the glory of war, despite the fact that, because of an error of judgement ('Someone had blundered´), six hundred soldiers were sent to their death. On the other hand, Dulce et Decorum Est, might almost have been written as a challenge to Tennyson´s patriotic views of battle. He presents the horror of senseless death in the trenches and shows the saying, 'it is sweet and becoming to die for your country´, is a lie. We are told that Tennyson wrote 'Light Brigade´ in a few minutes after reading the description in The Times of the Battle of Balaclava in 1854. He was a civilian poet, as opposed to a soldier poet like Owen. His poem 'Light Brigade´ increased the morale of the British soldiers fighting in the Crimean War and of the people at home, but Tennyson had not been an eyewitness to the battle he describes. Wilfred Owen wrote 'Dulce et Decorum Est´ towards the end of the First World War.


final stanza Tennyson creates a sense of the immortality of the soldiers´ bravery with a rhetorical question and commands: 'When can their glory fade? O the wild charge they made! ... Honour the charge they made, Honour the Light Brigade, Noble six hundred! ´ The repetition of 'the six hundred´ at the end of each stanza reminds the reader of the enormous loss of life, but at the end of the poem they have become the 'Noble six hundred´ and are celebrated as heroes. In Wilfred Owens poem, he is telling us to be cynical and disregard all of the ideals of war like in Tennyson's poem. The theme of 'Dulce et Decorum est´ is that war and dying for one's country are not in any way glorious and heroic. This message is echoed throughout the poem from the first stanza to the last line. In the opening stanza you get a very different image of the soldiers from what you might expect from the title. The title makes you think of soldiers as smart, proud, marching, and fighting, but Owens's poem and the picture he wants to give us is based on his personal experience of the battlefield. There is nothing romantic about Owens's soldiers. They are...


sick of sin´ It is as if he is filling the poem with as many ugly images as he can: '...............................the blood Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues´. During the man's death it is as if you are reliving his torture. Owen gives us a detailed picture of the war: he talks in the first person, 'I saw him drowning´, and describes one dying man, in contrast to Tennyson´s rather impersonal 'six hundred´. He wants us to imagine that we are actually there on the battlefield so we get an idea of what it was like. This poem is the closest we will get to experiencing such atrocities and if we had, Owen tells us in the final lines, then we would not try to glorify the war any more. In the Preface to his poems, published after his death, Owen wrote, 'All a poet can do today is warn. That is why true poets must be truthful´. This why he criticizes 'the high zest´ that some people have for 'the old Lie´ of the glory of war, and why I think that 'Dulce et Decorum est´ is the more powerful of the two poems and also because it seems more truthful to real life and what war is really like ADAM BALSHAW 11D

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