Compare and Contrast the Work of Two Post Twentieth Century Poems

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There are many Poems written about war. Some are anti-war and other pro-war. The two Authors I am going to study are Wilfred Owen and Siefried Sassoon. They are both anti-war poets. Another thing which they had in common was the fact they both fought in world war one. With some of Owens poems Sassoon actually contributed and helped with the final version. The poems which Sassoon did this for are “Dulcet et Decorum est” and some others. The poems I am going to look at are “Exposure” and “Disabled” by Wilfred Owen, and “Base Details” and “Suicide in the Trenches” by Siegfred Sassoon.

Both Sassoon and Owens work are similar in the fact they both try and get the same message across. They both are against war. Sassoon and Owen had a particular audience they were aiming their poems at. They were aimed at people at home not truly affected by war their poems were a way to make people understand what war was really like. The rhyming Scheme in Sassoon and Owen poems are very similar. The poems normally go ABAB this is to make the poem flow and easier for the reader to follow. Owen poems are long where as Sassoon poems are blunt and straight to the point.

The first of Wilfred Owens’s poems I am going to look at is “Exposure”. The title of this poem has many different meanings. Which are exposure to the enemy, exposure to the bad weather conditions, and exposure to the lies about war. Through out the poem Owen uses repetition “but nothing happens” this is to show the agony of waiting for something to happen. In the first stanza in “Exposure” Owen uses an alliteration “silence, sentries whisper, curious nervous” this is to mirror the soldiers whispering and to make the reader feel as if they can actually here the whispers.

Owen also personifies the weather so we can see the weather attacking the soldiers. A key message through out the poem is the way Owen says things that have double meanings. ‘The poignant misery of dawn beginning to grow… “Here dawn means the sunrise and the start of a new day and the truth about war is dawning on the soldiers. I think Owen does this to show there are always two sides to every story. The second of Wilfred Owens poems I am going to look at is “Disabled” this is another anti-war poem. The title “Disabled” is blunt and straight to the point not leaving much to the imagination.

The poem tells the reader about what has happened to someone who had fought in the war but Owen does not give the person in the poem a name. This is because tragic things like this happened to lots of men so by not giving him a name makes the poem relate to every man that has experienced a life chancing injury. Again, in this poem there are many parts with double meanings. “Ghastly suit grey suit” this can mean either the man is grey and has lost his colour in his face or represents his mood or the grey pyjamas they are dressed in when they are injured giving the men no identity and the fact the army only see him as another statistic.

Owen does this so try and get every tragic meaning across to make the reader realise what is really happening and to let the reader interpret the poem how they wish to. The poem also shows us how war ages people and steals their youth. “Voices of boys rang saddening” the victim is only a boy himself. Owen tries to get across how ironic war is. “in the old times” to this young boy 1 year earlier seems like a life time a go. When he didn’t have any worries and only really cared about having enough money to go out.

The readers knows the person in the poem is only a young boy, barely old enough to fight in the war, yet the rest of his life is ruined and he can no longer be a child as it has been taken away and he has been aged by war. Owen also uses sarcasms “threw away his knees” by signing up for the army that is what he as done. One of the many reason the young boy and millions of others just like him signed up in the first place was the way they would be greeted by the girls on their return. They thought they would be treated like heroes.

Where as many did not even make it home and died a horrific death many others returned home “Disabled” and the welcome they got was not the one they had hoped for. Most people tried to ignore the fact they were disabled or disfigured in some way and turn the other cheek. Siegfred Sassoon is another author I looked at and one of his poems I studied was “Base Details” the title of this poem had many meanings. “Base” meaning the camp was where all the important places were and “Details” meaning all the horrific and tragic effects of war.

The poem starts “If I were” this is as if he was a Major. bald and short of breath” here Sassoon has gone on to describe the Major as fat and unfit with no hair. Sassoon goes on to say “speed glum heroes up the line dead” this basically means sending boys who think they are going to be heroes to their deaths. Staying with the theme people do not truly understand what is really happening “poor young chap” here the Mayor does not know what people went through. At the end of the day the Mayor goes home to die where as the young boys do not have that privilege “I’d toddle softly home and die in bed. ”

The last poem I am going to study is another of Sassoon’s called ‘Suicide in the trenches. ‘ The title is as exactly how it reads. Through out the poem it refers to the soldiers as boys this is because most soldiers were vulnerable. Sassoon’s poems are short but to the point “He put a bullet through his brain” Here Sassoon tells it like it is sometimes the simpler the message the easier it is to get across. This particular poem has three stanzas but the second stanza does not follow the same rhyming scheme as the other two this is because Sassoon wants it to stand out.

In the third stanza Sassoon addresses the reader “you” this is because he wanted the reader to realise what was truly happening. My conclusion to all four poems is they all had a similar message and were aimed at the same audience. I found Sassoon’s poems more effective as they were short, sharp and straight to the point. Owen’s poems were longer, I feel this is because Owen does not like to leave any details out no matter how minor. To get the full picture you need all the facts where as Sassoon gets his message across blunter to shock people making it stick in people’s minds.

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