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Wilfred Owens, 'The Send off' and 'Dulce et Decorum Est.'

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Introduction

Wilfred Owens, 'The Send off' and 'Dulce et Decorum Est.' Examine the different faces of war presented by Owen in these two poems. Explore the similarities and differences between the poems and bring out aspects of Owen's poetic technique. Wilfred Owen was born in Shropshire in 1893. He went to school at the Birkenhead Institute in Liverpool and studied at London University. From a young age he always wanted to be a poet. He suffered a severe illness then travelled to France due to health reasons. There he became a tutor in Bordeaux. He remained in France until 1915. After France, he joined the Manchester regiment and fell ill after long experiences of trench warfare. He was then sent to a military hospital in Edinburgh. This is where he met a fellow poet named Siegfried Sassoon. Sassoon had a great influence on Owen and encouraged him to write his poems about the troubles of war. Owen was killed in November 1918, whilst in France after his re-draftment. During his lifetime, Sassoon collected many of Owen's pieces and published them in 1920. Owen is a great example of men using the force of poetry to convey opinions to the general public about the cold heartedness of war. In the poem 'The Send Off' the title is very ironic, as a normal association of the phrase 'to send off' is used for a happy going away. ...read more.

Middle

'A few, a few, too few for drums and yells'. The repetition in this line slows the pace right down, which shows us a sign of death as if at a funeral. Line nineteen, we see a contrast to the guns and fire the men would have experienced during the war 'to still village wells'. This phrase could also reflect the life of the village, for as the young men have gone away and died, the village has also died with it. At the beginning of the very last line, we see the word 'up', which is a clever technique as it is the opposite of the first word of the first line. Perhaps the word 'up' is a sign of the men ascending up into heaven. 'Up half known roads'. This final line, tells us how the soldiers have been away at war for so long and have suffered so much that they have forgotten their way home. The poem 'Dulce and Decorum Est.' is about a group of soldiers struggling to march on whilst being attacked by bombardments of chlorine gas. All the men manage to put on their masks except for one. The man dies slowly and painfully as the other soldiers can only watch hopelessly. In lines one to eight, we learn that the men can barely stand up due to great physical pressure. ...read more.

Conclusion

Its pace is much calmer and slower than that of 'Dulce'. 'Dulce', on the other hand, takes a much more bitter view, which helps to strike at the point of the method behind it. The theme of methods is, however, strong in both the poems. In 'The Send Off', Owen tries to make people feel sorry for the soldiers being sent away, whereas in 'Dulce', Owen wants to strike your emotions by showing you through his language, the horrors of trench warfare. The main theme however, in 'Dulce', is to embarrass the idea of war being patriotic. This idea of patriotism sickens Owen, as he feels people as home don't know the truths of the war, and wants to show them the reality through his art. I preferred 'The Send Off', as I felt the slow pace gave me time to think and acknowledge all of the efforts Owen was making. The rhetorical questions in the poem, also made you think about his motives and opinions. In 'Dulce', Owen tried to convey his opinions far too harshly, whereas the subtle approach in 'The Send Off', I feel strikes straight home, with room for interpretation. I also liked 'The Send Off' as it showed us the emotions of the British community at home, whose men and sons were being sent away. Whereas 'Dulce' only showed us the striking pain of the soldiers. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading and interpreting both poems, and they are truly both fine examples of war poetry. Adam Small ...read more.

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