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A Comparison between Dulce et decorum est. by Wilfred Owens, and Refugee Blues by W.H Auden

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A Comparison between "Dulce et decorum est." by Wilfred Owens, and "Refugee Blues" by W.H Auden These two poems are both written concerning the same subject of War. Owen writes from a personal viewpoint, recanting the horrific events he lived through during the Great War and exploring the mythical status of the soldier by using images that are unexpected of a soldier. "Bent double like old beggars under sacks...coughing like hags." People expected soldiers to be strong, young and healthy fighters with a strong sense of patriotism, but instead see images of weak, vulnerable despairing men. The main theme in his poem, of how it is not sweet and just to die for one's country, is presented by the way in which he describes the scenes, showing his anti-war feelings to the reader. This poem was originally a personal letter aimed at one of Owen's opponents, Jessie Pope. She wrote pro-war poetry that encouraged young men to join the army "with such high zest"; this can be seen throughout the poem, but particularly strongly in the last stanza where Owen seems to be telling the story as it is happening in real life. Owen was later dissuaded from sending this to her alone by Siegfried Sassoon, and adapted his poem to address a wider audience- the supporters of the war. ...read more.


The diction used by Auden is also important as he manages to create a strong feeling of sympathy and pathos without having experienced the war himself; "If you've got no passport, you're officially dead" This line, illustrates the way in which Auden wants us to understand the feeling of the Jews, having nowhere to call home, living a completely nomadic life. This is all made personal by using the repetition 'my dear' at the end of each stanza: "But we are still alive, my dear, but we are still alive" This is because of the way it sounds like the matter at hand is offending the reader, because 'my dear' sounds like he might me talking to the reader or someone else close to him. Owen uses his diction in a vivid and realistic way that implies that he has personally experienced this, making it increasingly powerful as the reader continues. Auden manages to produce a similar feeling of narrating the story from memory, although he writes from his knowledge of the subject, not actual memory. The general structure of the two poems is also different with Owen using a 28-line poem with 4 irregular stanzas. It is written in an iambic pentameter, with a rhyme scheme of ABAB, where as "Refugee Blues" has twelve regular stanzas of three lines, and almost a rhyme of AABB, with a repetition within last line at the end of each stanza, similar to the ...read more.


From all the evidence we can see how both poets use death as a minor theme throughout, making variations on it, when either talking about the planned extermination of millions, or from the front line in a war, they are both equally significant. The theme used mostly by Owen of how it is not sweet and fitting to die for one's country is also used by Auden in an imaginative sense. The Jews within the poem do not comprehend why they can not gain entrance to any country, because of their religion, or international status, and therefore feel the pointlessness of it all. Another shared idea of the poems is that of the 'silent majority'. This occurs in Refugee Blues as the Jews, and in Dulce et decorum est, as the soldiers. They both feel as though they cannot voice their opinions during the war, even thought they are a vast majority. The soldiers would feel this in war, putting up with the fighting for as long as they could and not having significant power to do anything about the deaths of all the young men, and the Jews not being able to say anything important because of their religion. Both poets use these poems as ways in which they can voice the opinion of their own 'silent majority'. With the help of anti-war poems like these, they may be recognized, and the problems repaired. ?? ?? ?? ?? - 5 - NFBC Wellington College English Coursework 2006 - 1 - ...read more.

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