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The End of the War is Just the Beginning

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The End of the War is Just the Beginning In the world of poetry, the most inspirational topics are often the most tragic. War is one of those subjects that evoke a bottomless well of stories, opinions, and emotions. "Leningrad Cemetery, Winter of 1941" and "Dulce et Decorum Est" are two examples of poems centered around battle with different perspectives on war itself. In the poem "Leningrad Cemetery, Winter of 1941," author Sharon Olds gives an account of a visit to a burial site where hundreds of dead bodies lay, victims of the siege on the city of Leningrad in World War II. The image is further darkened by the fact that since the ground is frozen, the corpses are unable to be buried. The overall effect created by this poem is to show the brutality of that time on and off the battlefield, as well as to convey the message that there is no hiding from the truth: the world is not a perfect place. The use of metaphors and similes, diction, sounds of words, and most importantly, the overall tone communicates harsh details. Though distributed throughout the work, these features are sometimes concentrated in specific sections; my guess is to create a stronger effect en masse. ...read more.


Though different from Gray's panoramic and impersonal images of power and destruction, these grisly images evoke the same "lust of the eye" in the speaker and upon viewing them, he tries to delude himself. By comparing the images he sees to more positive visions he can relate to, such as the butterfly cocoon and the trees roots, he feels more comfortable, it calms him. These ideas are but fleeting, though, and he is brought back to realize that the world is no longer perfect. It is as he sees it and no more, and that is overall message. There is no escape from the truth. In the poem "Dulce et Decorum Est," author Wilfred Owen provides the reader with not just one, but two entirely different views on war, both of which vary greatly from Olds'. Written in an "as it happens" type style, the piece depicts a group of soldiers caught in the middle of a mustard gas attack during World War I. Owen then switches gears and describes the aftermath of the assault with a cynical view not apparent in the first half of the poem. The purpose and overall effect of this poem is tell the reader that the messages created by the media are wrong and that dying for one's country is not a glorious thing. ...read more.


"And watch the white eyes writhing in his face/ His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;" (20). It is here that his tone becomes obvious and he relays to readers his belief about war and that the glory so often talked about is absent when it comes to dying on the battlefield. As General Patton once said, "No man ever died for his country. Go out and make some other man die for his country." Both of these poems strongly emphasize the aftermath of war more than the grand spectacle itself. It's this shared factor that in a way negates what Gray says about the "lust of the eye" and becoming separated from the world by the panoramic and jaw dropping sight of battle. Though neither of the poems disproves this idea, both Olds and Owen focus on a different "lust of the eye," one having more to do with what is seen at the end and not so much during the conflict itself. The images of the dead create a lasting impression in the reader's minds that as uncomfortable as it may be, must be a thousand times worse for a material witness. It gives me a whole new respect for veterans. I no longer appreciate just what they did, but what they have to live with. ...read more.

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