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Compare and contrast the presentation of war in 'Charge of the Light Brigade, Dulce et decorum est and After Blenheim'

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Introduction

Compare and contrast the presentation of war in 'Charge of the Light Brigade, Dulce et decorum est and After Blenheim' For this piece of coursework I am going to summarise each poem and write about its form and structure, rhythm and any use of rhyme. I will do this for the three poems mentioned in the title and will end by comparing the poems to each other. Charge of the Light Brigade: The first lines of the poem throw the reader into the centre of action, with a rousing chant that drives the reader, in its description and in its galloping rhythm, toward the battle. A "league" is approximately three miles long so they had quite a long charge to get into the battle. The people at the time the poem was written would have been familiar with the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War, which this poem is based on, and would have known from the beginning that they were charging to their own doom. The poem makes this clear quickly that the six hundred cavalrymen of the Light Brigade were aware of this themselves. The poem suggests that it is these moments before the battle has begun that are the Brigade's greatest glory. The phrase "Valley of Death" refers to an episode of John Bunyon's Pilgrim's Progress and to Psalm 23 from the New Testament of the Bible. ...read more.

Middle

the poem takes the reader back to the same feeling of hopelessness that was established before the battle began. The brief victory that was gained in the fourth stanza has made no difference to the overall outcome of the battle. The first time these words were used they ended with a claim of the soldiers' boldness and skill, this time, they end with the soldiers (referred to as "heroes") being shot down. The path that the Light Brigade charged into, the jaws of death, the mouth of hell, is mentioned again as the survivors make their escape. The survivors of this battle are then raised to heroic status by the words that this poem uses to describe the valley's entrance. The focus of the poem shifts in this stanza, from describing the battle scene to addressing the reader directly. In using the description "wild" to marvel at the charge, Line 51 implies that thoughtless bravery is to be admired, regardless of concerns about strategy or success. Repeating the line "All the world wondered" in line 52 adds to the idea that what the soldiers have done goes beyond the average person's comprehension: the soldiers are following rules that those who rely on intellect over loyalty might not understand. Although a close reading of the tone of this poem can leave little question about how we are meant to feel about ...read more.

Conclusion

There are ten syllables in most of the lines of this poem, and it would seem to be an Iambic pentameter, but the punctuation in the poem breaks each line into parts, which causes a discontinuous rhythm. Owen uses a common, modern diction in this poem. It is as though he is speaking in a conversation. It is informal, as he uses words like "floundering" (line 12) and "hoots" (line 7). It is very descriptive: "ardent" (line 26), "ecstasy of fumbling" (line 9), "gas-shells dropping softly behind" (line 8). My response to this poem is one of anger at the waste of lives, and the lying to the soldiers. I also felt sympathy for the soldiers and their families. This poem appeals to the emotions most, because the descriptions create an image so strong that I felt as though I could see the soldiers treading through the muddy trenches. I could imagine the panic in their eyes as they rushed to protect themselves from the thick green cloud that rapidly approached them. It made me realise how horrible the gas attack really was. I especially thought that the use of Latin in the poem was well done. The description of the soldier who wasn't able to protect himself from the gas attack has the most meaning for me, because I can imagine what it must have been like to watch someone die a slow, painful death and not be able to do anything about it. After Blenheim ...read more.

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