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Compare The Send-off and Dulce et Decorum Est

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"The Send-off" and "Dulce et Decorum Est" are two poems, both written by the anti-war poet Wilfred Owen. Wilfred Owen was born in England in 1893. He was the son of a railway man who was not very rich, so because of financial hardships he moved to France. When he was in France the First World War began (1914). This meant that he got involved in the war and during the war he sustained a severe head injury, which led him to suffer the rest of his life in hospital. During the stay at the hospital he started to write poems about war. He became an anti-war poet because he witnessed the reality and the suffering of war. Owen wanted to show the world how ruthless war was through his emotional poems. The injuries he sustained during the war finally killed him in 1917 at the age of just 24. Owen wanted show young men that war wasn't all about honour and glory, but that the true reality of war was death and destruction. He used his own experiences of fighting to write about the horrors of war in many of his poems. "The Send-off" and "Dulce et Decorum Est" are both about soldiers in the First World War. "The Send-off" is an ironic poem that deals with the lack of respect given to the young men heading for the front lines, whereas "Dulce et Decorum Est" talks about the horrors and realities of war. ...read more.


He uses his own experience to give us the point of view of a soldier on the battlefield. On the one hand this poem describes a horrific battlefield incident and on the other it is an argument attacking the belief in patriotism and martyrdom. In this poem Owen uses several similes to intensify the horror of the attack in trying to convince the reader of his pacifistic views. Another reason that this poem works so powerfully is because Owen seems to be speaking very directly to you. The poem rhymes in a simple A, C and B, D pattern and contains 4 verses each with a different number of stanzas. The Latin title itself is very ironic as it means 'It is sweet and honourable' even though the whole poem deals with the pain and suffering of soldiers. The poem starts off in a battlefield where soldiers are retreating. The soldiers are "Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags". This makes us think of illness, weakness, old age, tramps etc not like soldiers at all. Wilfred Owen uses these similes to show how weak and unprepared the soldiers are. In the next few stanzas Owen tells us how "Men marched asleep" and "Drunk with fatigue". The poet then increases the pace of the poem as all of a sudden there were "gas shells dropping behind". ...read more.


the old lie: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" which means 'It is sweet and honourable to die for ones country'. The themes of both the poems are war and both are anti-war. They both argue that war isn't about honour and respect but of pain and humiliation. Owen uses the poem "Dulce at Decorum Est" to show us the horrific graphical images of war and to convey to us the reality of war. I think Owen uses "The Send-off" to attack those who have disregard for the brave soldiers, who risk their own lives for their nation. In "Dulce et Decorum Est" the pace is really fast and the reader gets a clear image of what is going on due to the way Wilfred Owen expresses the horrific images through metaphors and similes. "The Send-off" on the other hand has a much slower pace and nothing really seems to happen. "Dulce et Decorum Est" is set on a battlefield where soldiers are retreating whereas "The Send-off" is set in a train station where young soldiers are heading for the front lines. In "Dulce et Decorum Est" the poet uses far more powerful words and gives a much more stronger message than "The Send-off", in which there is a much more calmer atmosphere. Out of the two, my favourite is "Dulce et Decorum Est" because it contains the use of powerful language and conveys a strong message. ...read more.

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Response to the question

This question asks candidates to compare Wilfred Owen's poems 'The Send-Off' and 'Dulce et Decorum est'. In it, the candidates must consider a wide range of poetic devices used by Owen to convey his passionately anti-War attitude. However, this candidate ...

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Response to the question

This question asks candidates to compare Wilfred Owen's poems 'The Send-Off' and 'Dulce et Decorum est'. In it, the candidates must consider a wide range of poetic devices used by Owen to convey his passionately anti-War attitude. However, this candidate limits the extent to which they can successfully achieve this by comparing the poems one after the other, rather than identifying comparative points between the two piece of writing and then commenting on the feature of that poetic device in each. For example, the candidate might identify Owen's use of powerful, emotive language; they would then comment on how it is used in 'The Send-Off' in comparison to 'Dulce et Decorum est'. After this, they would turn to Owen's use of structure and do the same. This encourages active comparisons between the poems in every paragraph, rather than simply listening knowledge about one poem and then the next, with no obvious comparisons made.

Level of analysis

The candidate here displays a fair amount of analysis although there are some points made that are not fully explored to the point that they will elicit many marks because there is no insight given; it instead the candidate merely feature spots and tell the examiner what Owen is writing in a very literal method: "In the final verse the poet asks the question whether the soldiers will be welcomed back “to beatings of great bells in wild train loads?”. The poet then answers the question himself by telling us that only “A few, a few, too few” soldiers “may creep back, silent to village wells up half known roads”." This entire section harbours no marks at all, as there is no analysis on the effect of Owen's question. In some places, the analysis is present, but it is erroneous and/or based on a misunderstanding: "The poem ['The Send-Off'] rhymes in an A, C, D and B, E pattern"; this is incorrect - the poem structure is ABAAB/CDCCD and is meant to mimic the rhythm of a steam train. This kind of appreciation of poetic constructs is hugely important for GCSE English candidates, as it shows the examiner the students do not only comment on the poem as a piece of writing and the effect of the language, but also how the structure shapes the meaning.
Furthermore, where this candidate tried to achieve context marks (an imperative for all candidate wishing to score higher than a C grade), they have made further errors, albeit seemingly small, they contradict a lot of Owen's later poetry like 'Dulce et Decorum est' and 'Mental Cases'. "This meant that he got involved in the war and during the war he sustained a severe head injury, which led him to suffer the rest of his life in hospital." - This is incorrect; Owen was released from Craiglockhart Hospital in Edinburgh (a mental institution - he was not admitted for physical injury) but he was released in 1917 and was reinstated on the front-line. Context marks are extremely valuable in the exam, but it is greatly recommended that candidates have conducted proper independent research into the poets/authors otherwise their understanding of context is shown to be insufficient to gain a high mark.
I would also, as a last note, encourage essays to be written in standard paragraphs rather than segregated snippets of writing, with a line break whenever a new point is made - this can be prevented if the aforementioned structure plan (in Section 1 of this review) is used.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication is acceptable. Grammar and spelling are reasonably well-adhered to, but a wider range of punctuation points including colons, semi-colons and parentheses would greatly improve the overall QWC of this answer as it shows examiners that a confident and well-learned writer is responsible for the essay. I would also argue that the title of the poems and poets MUST but capitalised; this is basic Primary School knowledge - 'The Send-off' is not acceptable - poems should be written as they appear in the excerpt given to the candidates i.e. - 'The Send-Off'.

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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 07/03/2012

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