When the men are given flowers, we cant help but feel a sense of irony, as these flowers are normally given as a sign of love and respect, but could be used as a tribute to the men’s deaths ‘gave them flowers’. In line seventeen, we see a rhetorical question ‘Shall return in wild train loads?’ Here the poet is trying to explain how the men will not return to ‘beatings of great bells’, as it is very unlikely that they will all return. Evidence for this is the way he presented their return as a question instead of a certainty.
‘A few, a few, too few for drums and yells’. The repetition in this line slows the pace right down, which shows us a sign of death as if at a funeral. Line nineteen, we see a contrast to the guns and fire the men would have experienced during the war ‘to still village wells’. This phrase could also reflect the life of the village, for as the young men have gone away and died, the village has also died with it.
At the beginning of the very last line, we see the word ‘up’, which is a clever technique as it is the opposite of the first word of the first line. Perhaps the word ‘up’ is a sign of the men ascending up into heaven. ‘Up half known roads’. This final line, tells us how the soldiers have been away at war for so long and have suffered so much that they have forgotten their way home.
The poem ‘Dulce and Decorum Est.’ is about a group of soldiers struggling to march on whilst being attacked by bombardments of chlorine gas. All the men manage to put on their masks except for one. The man dies slowly and painfully as the other soldiers can only watch hopelessly.
In lines one to eight, we learn that the men can barely stand up due to great physical pressure. We learn that many of them are sick from the damp cold ‘coughing like hags’. ‘But limp eon on blood shed’, tells us of the men’s great injuries.
Lines nine to sixteen of the poem, are especially dramatic. Owen increases the speed and pace of this section, to give the effect of the men panicking while trying to put on their gas masks. ‘Gas! Quick, boys!’ Owen also uses the word ‘drowning’, which is especially effective as we normally associate drowning with a fluid, whereas here the word ‘drowning’ helps to describe the sheer mass of gas surrounding the men. The chlorine gas forths up in the lungs so much that the victim literally drowns. On line sixteen, the words ‘guttering, choking, drowning’, are all extremely effective, as they end with an ‘ing’, which helps the line to flow along with the dramatic essence of the words we associate with disease and death.
From lines seventeen, to the end of the poem, Owen is trying to explain how that unless you are in the war and you have seen the pain and sin, that he has, you would not possibly be able to comprehend the horrors of the war. ‘If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood’. He is also trying to destroy the old lie that fighting for your country is the most honourable thing a man can do. ‘The old lie: Dulce et Decorum est pro patria mori’. Owen is also tired of young men signing their lives away in the hope of glory. ‘To children ardent of some desperate glory’.
Although the two poems are both about war, and both written by the same poet, they are in fact, fairly different. ‘The Send Off’ shows us the scenes of before and after the war, whereas, ‘Dulce et Decorum’, describes the horror of the war. The second poem also only reflects on one major point, which is the man being gassed, which gives us a greater sympathy to that one point. Whereas the ‘The Send Off’ focuses on a much larger scale, which in a way, makes us feel overwhelmed. ‘The Send Off’ is also a much more reserved poem. Its pace is much calmer and slower than that of ‘Dulce’. ‘Dulce’, on the other hand, takes a much more bitter view, which helps to strike at the point of the method behind it. The theme of methods is, however, strong in both the poems. In ‘The Send Off’, Owen tries to make people feel sorry for the soldiers being sent away, whereas in ‘Dulce’, Owen wants to strike your emotions by showing you through his language, the horrors of trench warfare. The main theme however, in ‘Dulce’, is to embarrass the idea of war being patriotic. This idea of patriotism sickens Owen, as he feels people as home don’t know the truths of the war, and wants to show them the reality through his art.
I preferred ‘The Send Off’, as I felt the slow pace gave me time to think and acknowledge all of the efforts Owen was making. The rhetorical questions in the poem, also made you think about his motives and opinions. In ‘Dulce’, Owen tried to convey his opinions far too harshly, whereas the subtle approach in ‘The Send Off’, I feel strikes straight home, with room for interpretation. I also liked ‘The Send Off’ as it showed us the emotions of the British community at home, whose men and sons were being sent away. Whereas ‘Dulce’ only showed us the striking pain of the soldiers.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading and interpreting both poems, and they are truly both fine examples of war poetry.