Tennysons attitude towards the soldiers is one of great respect. He seems to feel that the soldiers did an admirable job, even though two thirds of the men died, and no advances were made. He also seems to glorify the war, making the reader feel sorry or proud for their country.
I feel that the poem portraits war in all its glory, according to Tennyson, war is great and heroic. He tries to make people feel that the soldiers died patriotically for their country, I feel the poem was used by important figures to try and cover up the horrific mistake made by one of the commanders.
Another poem that I studied ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ written by Wilfried Owen about the first World War, in which he had personally fought.
The poem describes the death of a soldier via gas, Owen seems to make this poem tell the readers the uncomfortable parts of war and conflict, As the poem progresses you are able to build up a vibrant image of war, he describes the man dieing in such a horrifying way, that people start to see what the true image of war is.
He describes the soldiers’ crooked stance and compares them to old beggars, uncomfortable and undesirable. In the second line he goes on to say that the men are “knock-kneed” and compares their coughs to those of “hags”. Again the undesirable, slightly unpleasant note is illustrated through the diction. The soldiers sound unwell, probably due to their harrowing lives in the trenches, which makes them dirty, sodden and more prone to illness. In the third line the poet describes flares, long flames often used for signalling, as ‘haunting’ to the soldiers. This suggests that they are sick of the war and hate the constant reminders of it. The line continues to say that the man turned their heads on the haunting flares, maybe in a half-hearted effort to shut them out of their minds. Line four is even less enthusiastic – it describes the men as ‘trudging to their distant rest’. Maybe the sentence has a double meaning, maybe ‘distant rest’ is meant to be read further into and is a different meaning of the deaths that eventually the men will encounter. If this is the case then the line is quite dark, but if the line is taken as it is written then there is a little more optimism being displayed. Lines five to eight maintain with the tired, droning tone of those prior to them; they describe how the men were marching almost subconsciously. The word is then repeated, this time in capitals. I think this usage of words creates an effect of a double take. The rest of this line and the line preceeding it outline the men’s rush to put on the masks, and their clumsiness in their haste. The third line of this stanza, line eleven in the poem as a whole, begins to tell of how one soldier did not manage the operation quickly enough and was yelling for attention. The next line is: And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime… This line sums up the groping, desperate movements of the man enveloped in this deadly gas. The gas itself is thick and green, making the atmosphere thick and the light green. The metaphor featured occurs in the next line – As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. This situation is linked to the earlier use of the word floundering, and carries on the sea theme in a more definite way. The man is giving up the fight, onomatopoeic of the desperate fight for air under a sea. The ‘sea’ in this situation is actually a cloud of green gas, but the effect is the same; suffocation and frantic snatching for help. The sudden realisation that death is imminent is not a pleasant one, it is, in fact, a discovery that most people would rather not make. Human instinct tells you to do everything in your power to escape the situation, and the man is trying his hardest to reach help but is having to very sharply come to terms with the fact that there will be no help for him. He is snatching and clumsily reaching for something that will rectify the situation, but he knows it won’t happen and this would be a terrifying prospect to anybody. The use of the word ‘drowning’ in this highly descriptive area of the poem depicts the struggle for air. Although in this case gas replaces sea, the concept is still basically the same – suffocation. I doubt whether anybody has the power to come to terms with a situation like that quickly enough to be able to make a difference and be able to sensibly think of all possible solutions efficiently. The word ‘guttering’ was a particularly noticeable word to me. It has a similar meaning to the word ‘spluttering’, as well as sounding similar, and is often applied to candles. Candles often splutter before they extinguish, as if they are finally accepting defeat, and this is the way the adjective is used in this case. The next stanza is mostly on the same theme. One particular phrase he uses is rather unusual: ‘like a devil’s sick of sin’. He uses this sentence to describe the expression on the man’s face. The next lines carry on the putrid images; gargling blood, froth corrupted lungs, vile, incurable sores. These are fearful and foul, and these are the types of parts that the narrator is saying he saw happen and are now forcing themselves into his dreams every night, so that he may relive the horror. His last two lines are the main subject of the poem and include the title itself. Although these lines are not separated from the rest like those discussing how the man reappeared in his dreams every night, they are the most memorable as they are the last and the inevitability is forced out within them. The final lines are: The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori ‘The old Lie’. The Latin itself translates directly as ‘It’s sweet and glorious to die for your country’. The lines are a relevant end to the poem and leave the reader with the thought in their mind that perhaps war really isn’t as glorious as they’ve been told.
The poems attitudes towards the soldiers and war in general is that it is not as glorific and heroic as told in ‘The Charge Of The Light Brigade’.
I feel that this poem is much more poetic and legitimate as Owen was actually in the war. I feel that this poem uses a lot of emotive language.
Although both ‘Dulce et Decorum Est´ and ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade´ are about battle and the death of soldiers, they portray the experience of war in different ways.
Tennyson´s poem celebrates the glory of war, despite the fact that, because of an error of judgement (‘Someone had blundered´), six hundred soldiers were sent to their death.
Owen´s poem, on the other hand, might almost have been written as a challenge to Tennyson´s rousing and jingoistic sentiments. He presents the horror of senseless death in the trenches and shows us how the famous line from the Roman poet Horace, ‘it is sweet and becoming to die for your country´, is a lie.
We are told that Tennyson wrote ‘Light Brigade´ in a few minutes after reading the description in The Times of the Battle of Balaclava in 1854. He was a civilian poet, as opposed to a soldier poet like Owen. His poem ‘Light Brigade´ increased the morale of the British soldiers fighting in the Crimean War and of the people at home, but Tennyson had not been an eyewitness to the battle he describes.
Wilfred Owen wrote ‘Dulce´ towards the end of the First World War. He was killed in action a week before the war ended in 1918. He wanted to end the glorification of war. Owen was against the propaganda and lies that were being told at the time. He had first-hand experience of war and wanted to tell people back at home the truth. Owen was an officer and often had to send men to their deaths and ‘Dulce´ gives a personal account of what the war was like. Many patriotic poems had been written at the time. Owen knew that they lied.