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Dulce est Decorum est and For the Fallen

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Introduction

COMPARE IN WHAT WAYS DO THE POETS PORTRAY THE EXPERIENCE OF WAR IN 'DULCE ET DECORUM EST' AND 'FOR THE FALLEN'. Laurence Binyon wrote 'For the Fallen' in 1914 at the beginning of the Great War, while Wilfred Owen composed his 'Dulce et Decorum Est' in 1917-18 near the end of the conflict. This discrepancy in time suggests that there might be inconsistencies in the portrayal of the war, due to the changing perspectives upon the fighting, which in turn would provoke irregularities in the purpose, style and nature of the two poems. In 'For the Fallen', Binyon tells us that the soldiers have 'fallen in the cause of the free', thus suggesting that they try to make the world a better place, that they fight for something good. This gives war a mighty purpose and the men's deaths meaning. The concept of fighting 'for the greater good' is further highlighted in the phrase 'a glory that shines upon our tears', which conveys the idea that the sacrifices of the soldiers contribute to the welfare of society and thus everybody should be proud of those who are fighting. In 'Dulce et Decorum Est', Owen tries to prove to us that war has no mighty purpose behind it and that it is just a waste of lives. ...read more.

Middle

The determination which they seem to possess suggests that they believe that their deaths have a higher purpose. This encourages the reader and the mourning families to have faith that their loved ones' lives weren't wasted, but contrarily represented a admirable sacrifice for humanity. It seems that the greatest difference between the two poems lies in the way they portray death and their significance. In 'For the Fallen' death is 'august and royal', thus dignified and splendid, something rather positive and good. This is because the sacrificed soldiers' songs go to up 'into immortal spheres', suggesting the place where the dead soldiers found peace. This idea is repeated throughout the whole poem. The phrase 'they shall not grow old, as we that are left to grow old' implies that the deceased soldiers are divine, angelic and eternal beings. Due to their valiant deaths, their reward is that of eternity, as if their vibrant, determined and brave souls were immortalised, and thus they will be forever young, forever in the best of their condition. The deceased soldier's march in the 'heavenly plains' is 'as the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness'. 'Heavenly' and 'stars' suggest that the divine fighters' light will always be upon the mortal humans, guiding and protecting them. ...read more.

Conclusion

Owen, who wrote the poem near the end of the conflict, seems to be well informed about the direct experience of the war and at the same time he is aware of the patriotic and idyllic accounts that existed at the beginning of the fighting. This explains the angry, visceral and meaningless deaths which he depicts in his poem, almost as if he was angry about people lying and making war seem a worthy, purposeful thing. And indeed, his poem ends with a call to other people not to 'tell with such high zest/To children ardent for some glory, / the old Lie: Dulce et decorum est/ Pro patria mori (It is sweet, and honourable to die for one's country). Owen wrote as an answer to other poems such as Binyon's which glorify the experience of war, and this is why he chose the title 'Dulce et decorum est', to evoke the memory of the patriotic accounts from the beginning of the war, and then throughout his poem to shatter 'the old Lie'. He personifies the lie with the use of the capital letter, in order to compare its destructive force to that of a malicious person's. This is the reason why Owen sticks to visceral descriptions - he prefers not to spare the reader, because he believes that the Lie is even more cruel than the merciless reality of the war. ?? ?? ?? ?? Diana Lucaci ...read more.

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