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The two poems I have decided to contrast and compare are Dulce Et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen; and Vultures by Chinua Achebe. Both these poems are about the horror of war and the effect it has on man.

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Introduction

Poetry Assignment From the selected poems which you have studied on the theme of war, select at least two, one of which must be from a different culture, and/or tradition. Contrast how the poets portray the horror of war, making reference to how poets express their intentions through thoughts and feelings and their love of language. The two poems I have decided to contrast and compare are "Dulce Et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen; and "Vultures" by Chinua Achebe. Both these poems are about the horror of war and the effect it has on man. Dulce et Decorum Est (written in 1917 and published posthumously in 1921) is a poem written by the English poet and World War I soldier Wilfred Owen. The work's horrifying imagery has made it one of the most popular condemnations of war ever written. The 28-line poem, written loosely in iambic pentameter, is told from the first-person. ...read more.

Middle

The description is bringing the reader the wretched image of a final insult to the poor dead soldier. Achebe witnessed the horrors of war when he worked for the Biafran government in the late 1960s. Both men witnessed the real impact of war. While Owen tells the graphic images of actual human events Achebe uses Vultures to tell the same story in a more removed, detached way. Almost matter of fact. The vultures are a pair. He talks of them "perching high on broken bone of a dead tree". A metaphor of the broken body to come? They arrive upon their "corpse" together and after their initial gorging of the eyes and bowel, they keep their meal "in easy range of cold telescopic eyes". He descries the vulture's head as a "pebble on a stem rooted in a dump of gross feathers". Clearly showing us the ugliness of the bird adds to the portent of evil and in some way he challenges us when he describes the heads of the birds "inclined affectionately". ...read more.

Conclusion

I found both poems to be very gritty. Dolce... was literal and showed the horror of war and the effect on men. It highlights the numbing that the terror and fear causes to each man. They "trudge" back from the lines to their rest, undoubtedly after losing men and when the gas attack comes they deal with the body by flinging him onto an uncovered wagon, his "hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin". Achebe achieves the same effect by telling a story of a meal. The vultures just doing what comes naturally to them. They are not to be criticised for their actions, this is their world. This is how they live. Perhaps that is what links both poems for me. In Dolce... Owen describes how the men of the trenches had almost become immune as a result of being exposed to the harsh reality of war. In his writings he continues the theme of other "war poets" of his generation. Have the Generals become the Vultures in his war? ...read more.

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