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The Soldier

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Introduction

The Soldier On April 4, 1915, Dean Inge of St. Paul's Cathedral read a sonnet from the pulpit as part of his Easter Sunday sermon. The sermon was published in The Times the next day, and the sonnet therein became, as George Parfitt describes, "an important document of national preparation for war." Originally entitled 'The Recruit', Rupert Brooke's sonnet 'The Soldier' was the last in a sonnet sequence entitled '1914'. The five numbered sonnets, preceded by an unnumbered sonnet were first published in the periodical New Numbers (number 4) in January of 1915: The Treasure, I. Peace, II. Safety, III. The Dead, IV. The Dead, V. The Soldier Source: Internet (http://info.ox.ac.uk/jtap/tutorials/intro/brooke/vsoldier.html) In a time before conscription, this poem was an important, effective persuasion tool for recruiting potential soldiers. The basic, overall purpose of 'The Soldier' is to encourage English people to sign up to fight in the war. It focused on the apparent aspects, experiences and events relating to death; describing them in a positive way. One might say that the message of this poem, literally, is "Join the war! Don't be afraid of death; it is a victory for your Country." ...read more.

Middle

This represents the frailty and weakness of the soldiers. It is aided by another simile: "coughing like hags", which symbolises the deathlike state and disease of the soldiers, at the same time as reinforcing the idea of their frailty. When Owen writes "Men marched asleep", he refers to them being oblivious to the fighting that was going on around them, almost unconscious. They had a long walk back to their camps, and so 'switched off' mentally, becoming mostly unaware of the surrounding battle. When Owen says "Many had lost their boots, but limped on, blood-shod", he is speaking about the way in which the appalling conditions (mud, sludge) caused the loss of the soldier's footwear. He uses the metaphor "blood-shod", meaning they wore their own blood as shoes (their feet were covered in blood), just after emphasising the lack of pace to the soldiers' advancement with the words "limped on". Also, by using the word "but", he implies that the soldiers were either determined or just not thinking about what was going on, as they continued to walk without boots. Writing the metaphor "drunk with fatigue", Wilfred describes how the soldiers were so tired, their reactions would have been as if they were drunk. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, the second poem tries to not only render patriotism - as conveyed in the first poem - worthless, but also to comment upon (and be truthful about) the mental and physical suffering endured by those who fought. It also touches upon how the innocent were affected: often killed. The poem serves to highlight the inhumane nature of war, and to make clear that death is most often not dignified nor glorious, as the first poem, 'The Soldier', implied. I prefer 'Dulce et Decorum Est' overall. It is truthful, powerful, influential, and emotive. I respect Rupert Brooke for being able to write so convincingly, but his intentions are not as pure as those of Wilfred Owens. 'The Soldier' was more metaphorical but less truthful. 'Dulce et Decorum Est' was much more descriptive and detailed. It was able to create strong imagery with it's carefully chosen vocabulary. The onomatopoeia was particularly appropriate when it was used ("guttering", "choking"). The aspect which compelled me most about 'Dulce est Decorum est' was the reality of it. In 'The Soldier' the poet is merely trying to encourage patriotism, but in 'Dulce et Decorum Est', Owen is writing from experience, from the heat. His emotions and experiences were very real; in my opinion this makes for a better read. English War Poetry Coursework Richard Reeves ...read more.

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