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Visions of Death: A Comparison of An Irish Airman Forsees His Death and Anthem For Doomed Youth.

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Serena Wales 6/10/03 English HL Final Draft Visions of Death: A Comparison of An Irish Airman Forsees His Death and Anthem For Doomed Youth War has been written about many times, from all different angles and perspectives. Each generation has taken the wars it has experienced and put their reactions into novels, stories and poems. For one generation, the Great War was its defining moment, which marked it profoundly. Two writers who explored the devastation of the war in poetry were William Butler Yeats and Wilfred Owen, respectively in An Irish Airman Foresees His Death and Anthem for Doomed Youth. These two poems have very different perspectives on the war, and more specifically on death, but they do share many characteristics. Yeat's poem is the personal story of one man, the Irish airman of the title, who flies high above the trenches where the most terrible fighting was. He tells the reader for whom he is fighting, for what he is fighting, and what it all means to him. ...read more.


Owen's poem is a tribute to the vast number of young men who died in the war, and to what they lost as a generation. The phrase "...those who die as cattle," indicated that there are many of them, and that they have lost their individuality and are following the desires of their leaders. It also indicated that their sole purpose, like that of cattle, is to be led to the slaughterhouse. This shows that there is no beauty or grace in the war they are fighting. Yeat's poem is about one individual, who is following his own path in fighting. He says that "nor law, nor duty made me fight," but a "lonely impulse of delight." This contrasts with Anthem For Doomed Youth in that there is something positive in his experiences. Another difference is in how they approach the experience of fighting. Yeat's poem is solitary and still. There is no imagery of war or of any action at all. He does not discuss the battles that he has been through, and the only reference to combat at all is in his prophecy of death "somewhere among the clouds above." ...read more.


Traditionally, it was used for writing love poems, or poems on other lighthearted topics. Owen incorporates imagery that would also be appropriate in these poems, with the use of words such as "flowers" and "dusk," which only drive home the waste of life even more, since he seems to suggest that the young men should have had the opportunity to experience more in life. The form is also similar to that used in An Irish Airman Foresees His Death, which is also a sonnet. In this poem, the last two three lines are also used to reflect upon the situation. The concept of balance is important, since the fourth-to-last line mirrors the last line: "I balanced all, brought all to mind," is the narrator appearing to begin to make a decision, which is stated in the last line: "In balance with this life, this death." These two poems show that although war can take different shapes, it has an unalterable effect upon those who participate in it. They use different tools to communicate their message, but they both show that all war does is waste: waste "patient minds,", waste " breath,", and in the end, waste life. ...read more.

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