Dulce et Decorum est and The Charge of the Light Brigade
There have been many wars throughout time. Most people learn the facts through: papers, films, books or poems, but I am comparing two similar poems which have different meanings. Wilfred Owen who wrote the poem ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ or Lord Alfred Tennyson who wrote ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’. They are both based around the theme of war. Lord Alfred Tennyson is pro war and thinks it’s a good thing to die for your country. His poem was written to memorialise the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean war (1854 – 56) he wrote it ten years later, on: April 10th 1864.
He was born in 1809 and died at the age of 83 in 1892. Wilfred Owen is against war and he writes about the First World War, He was in the war unlike Alfred Tennyson and Owen expresses his feelings more disapprovingly. Wilfred Owen was born in 1893 and his poem was published in 1920 (December). Both these poets have strong but opposing views about war. ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ means it’s a good and noble thing to die for your country, which is ironic as Wilfred Owen doesn’t think this is true and he thought war was horrific.
This poem is about the First World War and Owen describes how he feels and he describes the trenches appalling from first hand experience. At the beginning the troops are marching in awful conditions to battle. Then suddenly there’s a gas attack and Owen recalls exactly what happened. Towards the end of the poem the tone changes, he reflects and he makes his view on war clear. The structure is written from his point of view and how awful war was to him.
The soldiers are ready to fight and are hunched in the trenches ‘Bent double, like old beggars under sacks’ this shows they look like old people bent over. As they are marching there’s ‘Haunting flares’ Owen uses a metaphor which suggests they look daunting in the shape they are falling, like the shape of ghosts. The soldiers are getting defeated’ But limped on, blood shod. All went lame, all blind’ in this line Owen has used metaphors and repetition to make the soldier’s movements stand out and shows they are injured and have got blood on there shoes.
Owen wants the reader to picture this in your mind with the verbs he has used ‘coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge’ shows they are choking on the gas and smoke but slowly and angrily carry on to battle. The use of repetition emphasises exactly how he felt and what he saw, ‘All went lame; all blind’ it makes it stand out how tired and injured the soldier’s really are from Owens view. The rhythm of stanza one is made by the ten syllables per line, which gives the effect that the soldiers are marching.
The rhythm has changed, there’s now a gas attack and the soldiers are shouting and rushing trying to get there masks on in time ‘Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! -An ecstasy of fumbling’. Owen then wants the reader to picture this so uses caesuras and exclamation marks to emphasise exactly what’s happening and this makes you imagine the soldiers in a sudden rush for the masks. Then Owen describes the gas attack as being under water ‘as under a green sea’ this suggests Owen wants you to imagine the movements the soldiers are making and how they are reacting.
To him to soldiers look like they are drowning as they are falling in the gas ‘I saw him drowning’. Owen wants you to feel like what he felt; he wants you to imagine the soldiers at this point as they are dying in the green smog of gas. Wilfred Owen talks about his reoccurring nightmare in the two separate lines because he wants to tell the reader how horrific war is and he wants you to see this visually how he does, so he explains how he still sees the dead soldier in his dreams reaching for him ‘He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning’ the proves that Owen feels anxious about death.
He cannot do anything to stop this reoccurring nightmare, so he uses these verbs and caesuras to show he wants to help but he can’t. In the third stanza Owen describes a soldier’s slow death by being repetitive to draw attention to this. He describes what the body looked like as they flung him in the wagon ‘behind the wagon that we flung him in, and watch the white eyes writhing in his face’ this suggests his eyes have rolled round. Owen uses simile to emphasise what the soldier looks like to him ‘His hanging face, like devils sick of sin’ this proves that he looks evil or possessed.
Owen makes the horrors stand out by describing his dead body in detail ‘If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs’ this emphasises how Owen saw him cough up blood and I think that Owen wants to make it clear how awful war is. The line which gives the overall message of the poem is ‘the old Lie: Dulce et Decorum est Pro patria mori’ Concludes the poem. Using the capital ‘L’ in ‘Lie’ Owen is making it stand out because to him he doesn’t believe this.
In contrast to ‘Dulce et Decorum est’, Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote the poem, pro war ‘The charge of the light brigade’. The title suggests that the poem is going to be about the good in war and not the horrors. Tennyson doesn’t want to mention that war is negative. The poem is based on the battle of balaclava in the Crimean war. The content is different to ‘Dulce et decorum est’ as they are both about dissimilar conditions in the war and both have different overall messages; one that it’s a good thing to die for your country and another saying that he doesn’t believe that is true.
Although the structure of the poem is similar as they both talk about war and describe what it was like fighting. Both poems start similar with a description of the trenches but Tennyson doesn’t want to mention death. In each of the stanza’s Tennyson wants to emphasise the battle so he uses repetition ‘Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die’, this shows the soldiers cannot answer back and have to do as told. Also Tennyson uses capital letters to make this stand out.
Unlike Owen, who used his repetition to make the horrors stand out more and he wanted to show how horrible war is but Tennyson wants to show that it’s a good thing to die for your country. The rhythm in stanza one is like the horses galloping. Compared with ‘Dulce et decorum est’ it is the soldiers marching slowly. Tennyson describes the soldiers having to be given orders and not to ask questions back ‘Theirs not to make reply’ shows they have to do as they are told. A soldier had lost his courage ‘Was there a man dismay’d? Tennyson has a used a rhetorical question to ask why the soldier has lost his courage and shows inside they are scared.
The exclamation marks in this stanza are used because it’s a military order ‘Forward, the light brigade! ‘ shows they are been ordered in a positive way, but in ‘Dulce et decorum est’ The exclamations are used because the soldiers are shouting in fear ‘GAS! Gas! ‘ shows they are scared. The soldier’s become visually surrounded in stanza 3 and Tennyson emphasises the odds against them’ Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon in front of them’.
This is different to Owen’s poem as they are not surrounded. Tennyson uses alliteration but is not angry ‘storm’d at with shot and shell’ Like gunfire, unlike ‘Dulce et decorum est’ Owen is angry ‘coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge’. Tennyson doesn’t want to show how horrible war is. Tennyson uses metaphors and mentions death this time but doesn’t describe in detail or mention it too awful ‘Into the jaws of death’ shows that the shark’s teeth are like swords and once they are killed they get discarded.
Unlike Owen who describes in detail and emphasises what death is like. Tennyson describes the scene in stanza 4 in more detail. It is similar to Owen’s description, as they both have images of water. ‘ Plunged in the battery-smoke’ this is the smoke from the guns and ‘Plunged’ suggests they dived or charged into the smoke. The soldiers then break through the enemy line. ‘Right thro the line they broke’. This stanza’s rhythm is different, the length has changes it is longer, compared with ‘Dulce et decorum est’ they are quite similar, they both have a main point.
In Owen’s poem there’s a gas attack and in Tennyson’s poem they break through the front line. Tennyson has used alliteration to show that they are winning. In Owen’s poem he makes it seem like they are losing. The optimism in this stanza has gone ‘Cannon to right of them, cannon to left of them, cannon behind them’ this suggests they are completely surrounded but the odds have worsened. Tennyson still has faith in them ‘They that had fought so well’ this proves Tennyson still think they are heroes.
The soldiers are now been shot at ‘Volley’d and thunder’d’ these verbs show that the soldiers are loosing and are getting shot at now. Owen’s use of verbs is different because he emphasises death more. Like in ‘Dulce et decorum est’, Tennyson’s overall message comes across at the end of the poem. He describes them as hero’s of what’s left of 600 ‘Honor the charge they made! Honor the light brigade! Noble six hundred. ‘ Tennyson uses exclamation marks to show that he admires them and thinks they are brave, but in Owen’s he uses exclamations because he’s scared.
Tennyson uses a rhetorical question ‘When can their glory fade? ‘ suggests Tennyson thinks they will always be brave and famous for fighting for their country. Both poems have very strong views about war. ‘The Charge of the light brigade’ has a very strong view about the good in war unlike ‘Dulce et decorum est’ who thinks it is a bad thing to die for your country. There attitudes are different because Owen is always describing how atrocious war is and describes the deaths around him and he describes how terrible the battle field is.
Tennyson on the other hand tries not to mention death and he doesn’t describe the atmosphere of injuries, he says they are hero’s. The poems are very different though, they have different uses for the same punctuation and emphasise lines for different things, Likes Owen would emphasise death and Tennyson would emphasise the heroes with the way they use the same punctuation. The poem I Preferred would be ‘Dulce et decorum est’ because it is smaller but makes you imagine the battle in much more detail. His use of metaphors makes you see the scene more clearly.