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The theme of war and destruction is presented through the poems Anthem for Doomed Youth and Reservist, written by Wilfred Owen and Boey Kim Cheng

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Introduction

Compare ways in which two poems in your selection explore the idea of war and destruction War is something most frown upon. The theme of war and destruction is presented through the poems ?Anthem for Doomed Youth? and ?Reservist?, written by Wilfred Owen and Boey Kim Cheng respectively. The poets convey their views of dehumanisation, bringing to light the mindless destruction and the effects of war through intentional use techniques such as structure, imagery, irony and various literary devices. Owen?s ?Anthem for Doomed Youth? conveys his ideas of inhumanity and futility of World War One portrayed through his use of the sonnet form and rhetorical questions. The young men of this period were lured into society views of the patriotic love and their eagerness to serve; conversely they spend their lives in the battlefields being shot down by machine guns. Their lives were wasted, gone without any dignified recognition and left their loved ones with the resulting hurt back home. Owen has exercised the structure of a sonnet in this poem. This is ironic in the sense as sonnets conventionally convey the theme of love. The fourteen lines are divided into an octave which describes mostly on the battlefield, then a sestet that illustrates the resulting reactions from family and friends back home. ...read more.

Middle

?The pallor of girl?s brows shall be their pall?, Owen compares the customary pale cloth draped over the coffin in a funeral to the paleness and sickness of the victims? family back home, presumably women. It suggests the reality of the sorrowful emotions the relatives have experienced due to the terrible effect of this tragedy. ?...each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds?, compares the shutting of blinds in the house when a person has passed away to the shutting of the eyelids when someone is dying. Use of alliteration is used deliberately to bring the poem to a close. Having the effect of continuing war sounds even after the deaths, shows no remembrance for the soldiers but the fighting carries on. Boey Kim Cheng has presented his ideas on the pointlessness of war in ?Reservist? through extended metaphor of the medieval era. Cheng uses this extended metaphor to liken the futility of war to the battles in the medieval time period. He does this by using themed words including ?clarion?, ?lordship?, ?cavalier? and ?joust?. The court martial language parallels the idea of the Singaporean government providing a military training scheme to discipline and control young men whilst learning to defend their country. ...read more.

Conclusion

Together with ?rusty armour? connotes that the armour has been worn many times and thus implies that they people have continuously contributed in the repetition of war. ?We will march the same paths till they break onto new trails, our lives stumbling onto the open sea, into daybreak? this summarises that the men will continue to be reservists until they find new happiness, presumably an overseas voyage similar of those personally experienced by Cheng himself. Both the poet?s approach to the destructive impact war has been thoroughly expressed. In ?Anthem for Doomed Youth?, Owen has emphasised his opinion that war is idiotic. The young men that served are foolish as they cannot oversee the importance of their lives, but would rather die in vain. However, those that died I the Western Front in World War One did not receive any dignified recognition and even in their death, the battles continued to destroy around them. Cheng?s poem ?Reservist? has portrayed his perspective on the pointlessness of the war and the monotony of it. These opinions remain relevant in the current society. According to nytimes.com, President Obama has admitted to the futility of modern war such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq. In this period, the costs vastly exceed the gains. Together, the two poets have expressed the ever-valid opinion of the absurdity of war. ...read more.

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