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'Drummer Hodge' written by Thomas Hardy discussed.

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Introduction

Basing your answer on Extract A and Extract B, you should write a comparison of the ways the writers describe the death of a soldier and say how far you agree with the views that Drummer Hodge is presented in a romantic, idealised way, and that Graves' German soldier is presented with stark realism. Extract A is a poem entitled 'Drummer Hodge' written by Thomas Hardy before the First World War had begun but shortly after the Boer War that took place between 1899 and 1902. The poem is based on a true story about the death of a local boy during the Boer War. The boy is referred to as 'Drummer Hodge' in the poem. Extract B is a poem called 'A Dead Boche', this time written after the First World War had started, and after the Somme, said to be the bloodiest battle of the entire war. The poet, Robert Graves had fought in the Somme and his poem reflects on his experiences as a soldier in the First World War. His poem is centred on his discovery of a dead German soldier referred to as a 'Boche' 'Drummer Hodge' describes the thoughts and feelings of the poet on the death of the young boy and his fate thereafter. ...read more.

Middle

This line of the poem can be translated as meaning that after Drummer Hodge's body has decayed he will become part of the growing plants, therefore being a part of Nature and Earth forever. In addition, 'breast' could be taken to mean his heart, and 'brain' could be taken to mean his soul, meaning that his heart and soul are now part of the Earth. It is clear from this that Hardy uses more graceful and positive imagery to describe death to the reader, whereas Graves tends towards the more physical aspect of death, which consequently entails the more shocking details which create a sense of revulsion within the reader. This emotion makes 'A Dead Boche' so effective in making people realise that death is not something that can be taken with a light heart. This leads on to the idea that Graves' poem is presented with a stark realism. One could agree with this statement on the basis that he omits no detail in describing the corpse of the dead soldier. Graves' poem is phrased in a way that makes it easy for the reader to see the situation from his perspective, which entails the fact that the poem is presented with realism as we are able to visualise very well what is being said, 'with clothes and face a sodden green'. ...read more.

Conclusion

'A Dead Boche' takes the form of an account, especially in the second stanza where Graves uses much description. This allows the reader to visualise what is being said and be more affected by the message of the poem. 'Drummer Hodge' however is more like fictionalised speculation, romanticised in that it deals with death in an idyllic way. Hardy's poem is like a reassurance to Drummer Hodge's family that he is now in a better place, much in the same way as priests and vicars were called into the army to give set soldiers' minds at rest so that they would not fear death so much. To conclude with I would say that the two poems are a prime example of how pieces of writing concerning the same subject can often be so different in style and content presentation, especially those concerning war and death. On the one hand 'Drummer Hodge' successfully restores faith in the age old reassurance that death is only a release mechanism to bring us closer to God and that we need not fear it. On the other hand, 'A Dead Boche' draws attention to the detail that hearing about death and actually experiencing it are two very different things by saying that death should be feared, as that is its very nature. Emile Khan ...read more.

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