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Personal response to "Dolce et Decorum Est", "Disabled" and "The Charge of the Light Brigade", comparing and contrasting the three poems

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Introduction

A personal response to "Dolce et Decorum Est", "Disabled" and "The Charge of the Light Brigade", comparing and contrasting the three poems War poems mainly tend to reflect on the futility of war, the pointlessness of it. They tend to be written about the poor men having to endure these battles, mainly in the two world wars during the twentieth century. Two war poets are Wilfred Owen (1893 - 1918) and Alfred Tennyson (1809 - 1892). I have chosen to compare and contrast three poems which these two poets have written between them. "Dulce et Decorum Est" - Wilfred Owen This poem was written by Wilfred Owen, who was a soldier in the First World War. He therefore gives a very vivid account of what it was like to be there, as he has had first- hand experience. The title of the poem means "it is sweet and honourable" and the phrase is continued at the end of the poem..."to die for your country". Just before this is stated at the end of the poem, Wilfred Owen chooses to write "The Old Lie". This tells us he does not believe this statement to be true. Calling the poem by this name is very ironic, as the poem is filled with horrible stories about what really happened, and so Wilfred Owen is saying how can all of this suffering be sweet and proper? The irony begins in the first line, where the soldiers are compared in a simile to old beggars. This implies that they look shabby, which is not the image of soldiers in bright shiny uniforms, which would be in keeping with the glorious image of war. The line has a slow pace with no sound described, which is also a contrast to the image of war, as people at home might expect the soldiers to be marching along at a brisk pace. ...read more.

Middle

From it we can see that the plan was a big failure, as the commands set by the chief officer were unplanned and the soldiers did not have the right to question their orders. The first verse sets out the scene for the reader. It describes the leagues of horseback soldiers preparing for battle, as they charge forward. A "league" is a measure of distance, and it means three miles. The line "All in the valley of Death" personifies death. The mood becomes more dramatic from line 5, with a line that brings us the readers closer to the action; "Forward, the Light Brigade!" This line and the quote "Charge for the guns!" are probably real orders set by the officers to these men, who we find out in the next verse that they didn't approve their commands. The phrase "Rode the six hundred" is a repetition as it is repeated throughout the poem. This is effective as it keeps the reader informed of the large number of men who later perished in the battle. The first four lines of the following verse tells us that these soldiers couldn't, and didn't, question their orders. "Was there a man dismayed? Not though the soldier knew". This is followed by three famous lines, as it says of the helplessness these soldiers had when they were set a task to carry out. The first line in line five, "their's not to make reply", tells us that the soldiers did not question the commands set by their chiefs. "Their's not to reason why; their's not but to do and die" tells us that there was no point in the soldiers arguing, as their job was to carry out the operation and probably die. These lines more or less summarises a soldier's duties during war. Again in this verse, the phrases "into the valley of Death" and "rode the six hundred" are repeated. ...read more.

Conclusion

The fact that this man, who was a popular man before the war, became so helpless and disfigured due to war makes us aware of the effects war had on some people. I think that "The Charge of the Light Brigade", written by Alfred Tennyson, is the more of a personal opinion by Tennyson rather than a war poem. Yes, it is based on the Crimean War, but the image he sets out is fairly blunt, and I think his main aim in writing this poem was for him to express his thoughts on the "noble" Light Brigade. I feel that Tennyson's description of the war is quite basic compared to the one in "Dulce et Decorum Est". Mainly, this will be because Owen writes in the first person and actually experienced war. However, nonetheless Tennyson's use of repetition throughout the poem is very effective as it keeps the reader aware of the large numbers of men who took part in the charge of the Light Brigade. With the line "rode the six hundred" in mind, it is easy to fall into Tennyson's trap of honouring them as we are not made to forget them throughout the poem. In the last verse, or the epitaph, the poet asks "when can their glory fade?" This is a rhetorical question, which means that it requires no immediate answer. This is used cleverly so the reader is made to think about the Light Brigade in their minds. Overall, what these three poems have in common is that they all show the pointlessness of war, and that the world has to realise to the fact that there are other ways in order to settle arguments, not involving the killing of many soldiers fighting for their country. I think what Tennyson says is correct, and we should honour those who die in war. Both these poets agree to the fact that war is futile, but they each have their say on the matter of dying in it. ...read more.

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