Dulce et Decorum est and Anthem for Doomed Youth compared.

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Dulce et Decorum est - Anthem for Doomed Youth

“Dulce et Decorum est” and “Anthem for Doomed Youth” are two poems written by Wilfred Owen during the First World War. Owen, like most soldiers, joined up after being convinced that war was fun by propagandistic posters, poems and stories, and once he had realised that the truth was quite the opposite of this, he decided that it was his responsibility to oppose and protest against poets like Jessie Pope through poetry itself. People were not prepared for the sheer scale and manner of death and the mechanised nature of trench warfare, and had false expectations of the heroic endeavour, but little awareness of the realities.    

However, compared to “Dulce”, the anger portrayed is dramatically understated. “Dulce” is an outrageous protest, displaying the “haunting” and “bitter” effects of war, and after describing in great detail the horrific story of a soldier “drowning” and “choking” in gas, Owen reveals his passionate hatred for the false and misleading idealisms of heroism in war using particularly emphatic imagery in “cancer” and “froth corrupted lungs”. The fact that “Anthem” is a sonnet, is ironic in that they are usually about love, and because it is actually about grief, it somewhat lulls the reader into a false sense of security, therefore making the poem more effective. Both poems seem to talk about the vile and painful conditions in war, “Dulce” using onomatopoeia in “trudge”, giving the impression that war is truly appalling, immediately going against the common belief that it is a game from poems like “Who’s for the game?”. Also, true to both poems is the idea of undignified and casual death, rather than the heroic, glorious death promised by governmental propaganda. For example, in “Dulce”, Owen talks about the way they “flung [the dead soldier] in a wagon” with such brutal nonchalance.  

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Furthermore, “Anthem” introduces a typical Victorian funeral with singing “choirs”, and juxtaposes it with the “shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells” on the battlefield, and with the constant end-stopped lines, this conveys a sense of solemn grief rather than the vicious anger in “Dulce”, which tends to use enjambment more frequently. Also, “Anthem” discusses the lack of ceremony and dignity in which people are “honoured” after their death on the battlefield, and Owen reveals his anger for this using the powerful, hyperbolic alliteration in “rifles’ rapid rattle”. In addition, the fact that the sound of machine gun fire is ...

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