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war poetry

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In the essay I am going to compare and contrast the way in which different attitudes to war are presented in the poems ‘Dulce et Decorum est’. And ‘Vitai Lampada’. Both poem are a bout war but they are wrote in completely different ways.                                                                                                                                      Firstly, Wilfred Owen wrote a poem named Dulce et Decorum. Wilfred Owen was born in 1893 in Owestry, Shropshire and he died in 1918. Dulce et Decorum was written in 1917. Wilfred Owen enlisted for the war in 1915 and trained in England until the end of 1916. In 1917 he was posted to France to fight where he was often in the trenches. Wilfred Owen suffered shell shock and was sent to Craig Lockhart hospital near Edinburgh. This is where he wrote many of his poems about war after having first hand experience of it. His shell shock could have influenced why he wrote about dreams, nightmares and sleep in his poem. He saw the pain that the dying soldiers were in at the hospital and many brutalities of war. His poems are strongly anti-war. It was known for soldiers to drown in the mind; he makes reference to the sludge; He also despites how the smart uniforms are now like sacks and how their feet are caked in blood and mud because ‘many have lost their boots’. They are barely awake from the lack of sleep and are physically and mentally drained.                                                                                                                                                In October 1917 Wilfred Owen wrote to his mother from Craig Lockhart, ‘here is a gas poem, done yesterday… the famous Latin tag (from Horace, Odes) means of course it is sweet and meet to die for ones country.                                                                                        The title is ironic. The intention was not so much to indulge pity as a shock, especially civilians at home who believed war was noble and glorious. It comprises for unequal stanza, the first two in sonnet form, and the last two looser in structure.                                                                                                               Stanza 1 sets the scene. The soldiers are limping back from the front, an appalling picture expressed through the smile and metaphor. Such as the men’s bad

 Condition that can be compared to old beggars, hags (ugly old woman). Yet they were young! Barely awake from the lack of sleep their once smart uniforms resembling sacks, they cannot walk straight as they’re ‘blood-shod’ seems as dehumanising image – we think of horses not men. Physically and mentally they are crushed.                                                                                   Wilfred Owen used words that set up ripples of meanings beyond the literal and exploit ambiguity. ‘Distant rest’ – What kind of rest? For some permanent kind? ‘Coughing’ finds an echo later in the poem, while gas shells dropping softly suggest a menace stealthy and devilish. Note how in line 8 the rhythm slackens as a particularly dramatic movement approaches.                                                                                                  In stanza 2, the action focuses on one man who couldn’t get his gas helmet on in time, following the officers command in line 9, ‘ecstasy’ (of fumbling) seems a strange word until we realise that medically it means a morbid state of nerves in which the mind is occupied solely with one idea. Lines 12-14 consist of a powerful underwater metaphor, with succumbing to poison gas being compared to drowning. ‘Floundering’ is what they’re already doing (in the mud) but here it takes on more gruesome implications as Owen introduces himself into the action through witnessing his comrade dying in agony.                        

Stanza 3. From straight description Owen looks back from a new perspective in the light of a recurring nightmare, those haunting flares in stanza 1 foreshadow a more terrible haunting in which a friend dying ‘plunges at me’. Before ‘my helpless sight’ definitely an image that Owen will never forget.                                                                                        Stanza 4. Owen attacks those people at home who uphold the wars persistence unaware of its realities; if only they might experience Owens’s own ‘smothering dreams’, which replicate is small measure the victims suffering. Those sufferings Owen goes on to describe in sickening detail.                                                                                                                The ‘you’ whom he addresses in line 17 can imply people in general but also perhaps, one person in particular, the ‘my friend’ identified as Jessie Pope, children’s fiction writer and versifier whose patriotic poems epitomised the glorification of war that Owen so despised. Imagine, he says, the urgency, the panic that causes a dying man to be ‘flung’ into a wagon, the ‘writing’ that denotes an especially virulent kind of pain. Hell seems close at hand with the curious smile ‘like a devils sick of sin’. Sick in what sense? Satiated? Physically? Then that ‘jolt’. No gentle stretcher-bearing here but agony intensified. Owens imaginary is enough to sear the heart and mind.                                                                                                                        There are echoes everywhere in Owen and with ‘bitter as the cud’ we are back with ‘those who die as cattle’, (Anthem for Doomed Youth). ‘Innocent’ tongues? Indeed, though some tongues were anything from innocent in Owens opinion. Jessie Pope for one perhaps, his appeal to whom as ‘my friend’ is doubtful ironic, and whose adapted creed, the sweetness and meet ness of dying for ones country he denomces as a lie which children should never be exposed to.                                                                                                        They are many differences between these two poems but firstly the two poets, Sir Henry Newbolt and Wilfred Owen have their own differences. Firstly Sir Henry Newbolt was for war and Wilfred Owen was against war. Sir Henry Newbolt said it was right to fight for your country. Wilfred Owen Fought in the war so he can judge war and say whether it is positive or negative.                                                                                                                                                The poems themselves have differences but the main differences is that Dulce et Decorum starts off in 3rd Person view, which is like an image. Then in stanza 2 and 3 it goes to 1st person which makes it more real which as if he has seen it. Then in the 4th Stanza It is talking straight to the reader. In Vitai Lampada, it is all written in a 1st person narrative. And so is able to convey raw emotion to real experienced events – more believable than Vitai Lampadas idealistic vision. Pro-nouns are used to great effect within the last stanza – the speaker is talking directly to the reader and forcing him/her to listen to his tale.        Sir Henry Newbolt wrote Vitai Lampada, he was an English novelist, lawyer, playwright and poet born in Staffordshire. He was knighted in 1915. During the First World War, he became a organizer of telecommunications and worked as an official historian. It has been estimated that Vitai Lampada was written around 1897 and refers to the Boer war (before World War One). Vitai Lampada, Which means ‘they pass on the torch of life’ is probably his best known poem, which contains the refrain ‘Play up, play up and play the game!’ One of the reasons for it popularity was the solid beat of its Rhythm. The poem is about a schoolboy cricketer who grows up to fight for his country. He remembers, how he felt at school when the captain used to say the famous refrain, which stirs him into action and fighting spirit while he’s at war.                                                                                                                                                                        ‘Vitai Lampada’ is Latin for ‘ the torch of life’. As most of the school boys and young men for whom this poem was written in 1897 would have known. At that time the British Empire was the Major Global Power and Britannia really did rule the waves. Attitudes towards nationality, race and class have changed extremely since then, and reading the poem requires a certain imagination. The function of poetry has also shifted. There was certainly more of a feeling then that poetry had an important public function. Where as today, poetry usually deals with the private visions. Poems such as this one were committed to memory, learnt by heart and used as moral guides in times of difficulty.                                                                                                                                                   The first stanza is set on the school cricket field. The team is in a difficult situation – ‘ten to make and match to win’, and the poem suggests that learning to be a team player is better than personal gain. – ‘Not for the sake of a ribboned coat.                                                                                                                                       The second stanza, those men who once have been boys playing cricket are now in foreign land facing an even more difficult situation – ‘the Gatlings jammed and the colonels dead’. In the bitter reality of the battle field, the poet tells us the principles of selflessness learnt on the school cricket pitch still hold good – ‘but the voice of a school boy rallies the ranks. ‘Play up! Play up! And play the game!’                                                                                                        The final stanza makes a plea for the values for the values of continuity and traction and discipline learnt at school to be handed down from generation to generation – ‘and falling fling to the host behind’ in the modern individualistic world, where social customs and traditions have had to change rapidly to keep pace with technological change, ‘play up, play up, and play the game’ may seem a rather quaint and old fashioned moral.

The rhythm and rhyme in both poems are similar but also have differences, in Vitai Lampada the rhyme scheme is: - ABABCDCD. This helps to create an even rhyme and rhythm – almost songlike, but in Dulce et Decorum the rhyme scheme is: - ABABCDCD – the same as Vitai Lampada, however this changes and becomes more unpredictable in the last two stanzas as the mood of the poem shifts. Alliteration is used again but nor for a sing song effect but rather to place emphasis on the actual content of the words – ‘Watch the white eyes writhing’.                                                                                                                                                                     I didn’t enjoy these poems because they were a bit boring and hard to understand.

In conclusion, these poems are different in the ways they are wrote but both describe the same point just wrote in a different ways.                                                                                        

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