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Compare two poems by Wilfred Owen, showing how Owen portrays the victims of war.

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Introduction

Compare two poems by Wilfred Owen, showing how Owen portrays the victims of war. Wilfred Owen was born in Plas Wilmot, near Oswestry, on 18th March, 1893. Educated at the Birkenhead Institute and at Shrewsbury Technical School, he worked as a pupil-teacher at Wyle Cop School while preparing for his matriculation exam for the University of London. After failing to win a scholarship he found work as a teacher of English in the Berlitz School in Bordeaux. Although he had previously thought of himself as a pacifist, in October 1915 he enlisted in the Artists' Rifles. Commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, he joined the Manchester Regiment in France in January, 1917. While in France Wilfred Owen began writing poems about his war experiences. In the summer of 1917 Owen was badly concussed at the Somme after a shell landed just two yards away. After several days in a bomb crater with the mangled corpse of a fellow officer, Owen was diagnosed as suffering from shell-shock. While recovering at Craiglockhart War Hospital he met the poet Siegfried Sassoon. Owen showed Sassoon his poetry, and he advised and encouraged him. So did another writer at the hospital, Robert Graves. Sassoon suggested that Owen should write in a more direct, conversational style. Over the next few months Owen wrote a series of poems, including Anthem for Doomed Youth, Disabled, Dulce et Decorum Est and Strange Meeting. These show how his views on the war changed from how it was good to fight to how horrible it really is on the battle field. ...read more.

Middle

This is a clever play on words and is a good way of showing how shocked and sad the women really are. The final two lines make an enjambment and talk of how they will have no flowers but instead have 'the tenderness of patient minds', meaning the thoughts and memories the loved ones carry. It then goes on to say how they will not close the curtains but instead the 'closing' of another long, lonely day for bereaved families is the same. The phrase, 'each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.' gives a powerful mood of sadness which makes the reader give pity and sympathy onto the families. The second poem Dulce et Decorum Est is quite different from the first poem, Anthem for Doomed Youth. Instead of focusing on everyone in the war it focuses on the journey of a platoon and how in one incident a soldier got killed by poison gas. It is double the length of the first poem making it a double sonnet, which shows that Owen maybe had more to say in this poem than the last. But the other main concentration of the poem is showing that the saying 'Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori' is a lie. This compared to the first poem is more hard hitting and to the point and yet also more saddening. Yet both the poem's tone is angry due to Owen's new found hate for war. ...read more.

Conclusion

I believe that both poems are strong in their own way. Anthem for Doomed Youth uses an angry tone at first then makes a change to a mellow tone to make you feel sad that the soldiers won't get a proper funeral and that the usual tasks performed by the families and friends, after the funeral won't be carried out e.g. Drawing of blinds. Also the vast amount of onomatopoeias used does evoke as strong atmosphere as well as the unpleasantness of the sounds themselves. Dulce et Decorum Est uses more description and metaphors as a way of putting across its point, which is the horrible truth that its horrible at war, especially the way in which you die. It also uses similes to show the way in which the soldier moved violently as he died. Also, Owen puts himself into the poem to show that he was there and to prove that it really does happen like that. This implies that it can be traumatising to see something like that and that it is so nauseating that it can only be explained in this most elaborate way. Dulce et Decorum Est is the most effective and the most powerful poem because it shows how horrible war really is and how hard it is to be at war. It also shows, as well as the in depth account of how sickening it is to die, that everything learnt in school isn't necessarily true unless the teacher has had experience in the matter or knows someone who has and has told them about it. James Spicer, 10w2. English coursework, Mr Sumner 1 ...read more.

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