Dulce et Decorum Est – Wilfred Owen and Suicide in the Trenches – Siegfried Sassoon
How horrible is war? The two writers Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon have had enough of war, and so these two men want to show the rest of the Untied Kingdom, war is not as it is set out to be. World War 1 was shocking and horrifying. Many, truly believed it was honourable to fight and die for their country. All three poems have different sceneries that help us imagine the atmosphere and feelings of the soldiers. This essay will look at the comparisons of shock and horror within all three poems, in turn they will also be contrasted.
Most of the population in the United Kingdom, had this warm and gently picture in there heads, of young soldiers marching into battle as upright, steady brave young men proudly carrying they sacks and singing as they march. Wilfred Owen paints them a picture of the real war. He shows them that when he was fighting in the war, his life was not perfect and neither was it for the other soldiers. Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon were both fighting in the war, as also once they thought it was honourable to ‘die for their country’.
Like many others, these two brave, but foolish men thought it was brass bands and neat uniforms, however after their came back from war the attitude of these two men had changed, in conclusion the two men wrote heartbreaking poems, so they could express their feelings. Firstly I am going to relive the poem Dulce et Decorum Est. Dulce et Decorum Est, in English means it is ‘sweet’ and ‘fitting’ to die for your county.
In Surrey, many of us soldiers and officers went past a chapel in Sandurst, whilst going past this chapel, the saying ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ was posted against it, and so it would remind us it was a honour to be part of the war, this would keep us strong, this saying still hangs there this very day. In the war poem Dulce et Decorum Est, a question is being asked to the people who were sending young men to war. If you personally could see what war was really like, you wouldn’t persuade your child to join?
At the end of the poem I am going to ask you this same question, as by then I will have an idea of what war was really like. The poem is strongly descriptive, so you as a reader can realise life as a soldier. Those at home who thought we were safe and well looked after were all mistaken. The smart uniform that we were meant to be proud of didn’t exist anymore, it turned out to be a thin cloth like pair of clothes, with large holes, from the ripping of barbed wire.
The lack of decent uniform made us physically and emotionally ill like tramps on town streets, ‘like old beggars under sacks’, this is good proof, showing you what kind of effect war had on us soldiers, as a reader, you should already have a picture in your head of one of your sons, and that wasn’t the last of the pain. ‘Bent double’, this is very shocking as us soldiers should have been getting enough rest so that we were fresh for the next day, this is not visible and so they are described as ‘Bent double’.
The lack of decent food made the camp of soldiers weak, as the food we were eating didn’t give us enough energy to last us a full day in the war for justice. This vital energy we needed didn’t exist, and from that point on, we couldn’t walk straight, as if we were ‘Knock-kneed’. Medicine for coughs did not exist, so there was no cure for when we were ill, we were coughing as if were mutated animals, it was horrible, I was surrounded by sick men, ‘coughing like hags’.
After leaving the frontline, we had to walk in the worst conditions possible, all of us were thirsty, cold, hungry and tired, as each and everyone one of us gave it are all, men with upset faces were trying to get through the deep wet mud, which felt as if we were walking through a pool of glue, ‘We cursed through sludge’, trying desperately to get to our second home, for safety and a few hours rest.
Many of us soldiers had lost our boots in the war, after walking for so long and running from the bombs, some would lose us in the mud, and also sometimes, boots would simply start to wear out, until they completely fell apart, leaving some to walk in bare foot, this is so shocking because it wasn’t our fault, it felt as if it was a act from God. Mostly everybody’s feet were pouring with blood, ‘blood-shod’, it was like a sandwich of blood on the feet of these young soldiers. Blood-shod’ is a very repulsive word, giving you the reader more evidence on how shocking war is. I need to go through in great detail about how we were reacting when we ‘lost’ our boots, because sharp rocks have cut the soldiers feet, however the attitude of us soldiers are heroic that we still march on. This is similar in all three poems, everybody has lost something, which they require, for example in ‘Suicide in the trenches’, the young boy who at first was happy fighting in the war, “who grinned at life in empty joy”, had now turned into a disconsolate boy.
He has ‘lost’ his confidence and now is scared. Parallel to the young man in the poem ‘Disabled’, where he has ‘lost’ both legs and an arm, stated in the poem as ‘legless, sewn short at elbow’ The thick mud wrecked our eyesight while we were walking, It was really difficult to whip our eyes because we were so weak, and we needed to store vital energy so we could get back to safety, in conclusion we walked blind, ‘all went lame, all blind’, this is showing that the conditions were repellent.
I am trying to express inexpressible outrage to what has happened to the soldiers and I, and to make it worse some of the soldiers were my close friends. The shock and horror of those shells, ‘five-nines that dropped behind’, they went straight up and back down, so they could penetrate the dug outs which were occupied by us soldiers, the shacking of the shells would shock me for hours, and there was no escaping us. Now describing the Gas. The word ‘Gas’ was the most disrupting word to us soldiers.
We hated it, like we hated the Germans, I am going to explain to you as a victim of war how commanding the word ‘Gas’ really was to us soldiers. It was an unwanted gas for us. If anybody heard the word ‘Gas’, the atmosphere would change in an instant, even today the word ‘gas’ would make me sick. When the loud-pitched voices suddenly started to scream. ‘Gas! Gas! Quick, boys’ everybody would start to panic, ‘An ecstasy of fumbling’. When you had your gas mask on, you were secure, and danger was not insight, ‘Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time’, danger was not insight, only until the gas was gone.
In spite of this, I Wilfred Owen am describing my feelings of gas, even though I despite it, because I saw one of my close friends needing help as he panicked to get his gas mask on, there he was in and I couldn’t do anything to help him as I also needed to put my own gas mask on, and by then it was too late, my comrade was dead ‘someone still yelling out and stumbling’, this made me poignant and fuming. The high emotion and the panic would go around making everybody uncomfortable. Men were moving awkwardly and with great difficulty, these men were clumsy in thinking when they heard ‘Gas’.
I describe horror in this part of the poem, relating the gas being ‘floundering like a man in fire or lime’ as some soldiers were not in control of the situation. I saw one of my best friends dieing on the floor with his eyes still open, in agony throwing up his sick all over my feet because of this evil gas, this image would frighten me for the rest of my life, as I have this picture in my head, seeing my friend “Through the misty planes and thick green light, As under a green sea, I saw him drowning”.
In the second stanza I write about a soldier I knew, who was trapped, as a gas is attacking him. Seeing and hearing that man in the cart, in so much pain. ‘Behind the wagon that we flung him in’. If only you could dream this nightmare, you would see how bad it was, when one of your men was down. ‘If in some smothering dreams you too could pace’. The young soldiers eyes had turned bright white, as if a demon had taken over his body, his face hanging, as if an evil devil had wrecked his face just for the fun of it, ‘like a devil’s sick of sin’.
If only you could hear the ‘sizzling’ of the young mans lungs from inside his fragile body, filled with unwanted gas, attacking anything ahead of it as it burns off the lung lining. Bright red blood pouring out from the soldier’s mouth mixed with the poisonous gas. ‘If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood, come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs’. Would be heartbroken? I need to use these using disgusting words to explain my rage, the horrify words like ‘obscene’ and ‘bitter’, I want to image you in that situation.
This mans tongue is burned, and all for no reason at all, he hasn’t been inferior to anyone, he was just a normal intelligent boy, and he was the last person to deserve this. ‘Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues’ I need to get some things off his chest and in the open. I can’t understand why the people at home are sending these innocent fit, smart, confident young men off to fight in the horrify war. There you are at home thinking it is good to fight in the war, there is only one name for you people, ignorant.
I know war is sick, I was there, don’t forget these words, war is shocking and horrify. A soldier’s death would most likely to be a horribly gruesome death. It is evil to commit the lie that it is ‘noble to die for one’s country’, the Great War has brought countless suffering to so many young men. Now looking at ‘Disabled’, by Wilfred Owen. In this poem, I, Wilfred Owen am trying to express the real tragedy of war, just like I have done in the poem Dulce et Decorun Est. However this time I am focusing on one young man, a single victim of war.
I am going to explain to you, you horrible murders, the effect the war has had on the young man’s life, as when the brave boy returns he is legless as the poem states, ‘he sat in a wheeled chair’. Here I am going to talk about is the description of the disabled man, in his own view, showing his terrible life. I realise it is bad to die in the war, however it is also horrible for the people that were not killed in the war, as we suffer a lot more, this is also shown in the poem Dulce et Decorum Est, as us soldiers also suffer when we were resting in there dug out, and suddenly we had realised that we were being gassed,’ Gas!
Gas! Quick, boys’. I am so ashamed of my appearance that I cannot wait for night as like me, dark also hides. This can be compared with the poem Dulce et Decorum Est as also us soldiers were ashamed of the uniforms we were wearing, as they had been covered in wet mud and ripped by barbed wire, ‘like old beggars under sacks’. I am now permanently shocked, as I cannot believe what has happened to me, Wilfred Owen is also horribly shocked as he sees one of his close friends yelling for help, ‘ I saw him drowning’.
This has hit me hard and I still need time to realise the state I am in, as I looks around and see that my inmates and I are all trapped. We are having to wear these repellent plain grey hospital clothes, ‘Shivered in his ghastly suit of grey’, we can also compare this evidence with the soldiers in Dulce et Decorum Est, as us soldiers are also trapped from going home and seeing our loved ones, and us soldiers also had to wear these dirty uniforms, day in, day out, which we extreme disliked.
Seeing pictures of myself before I had left to fight, made me ill, as memories ran through my confused and shocked mind, seeing myself with a fit and healthy body, nevertheless after the war, I turned up with no legs and arm less. I have non-stop nightmares. As a writer of this poem, my aim is to try to make the reader image he or she having no legs. How would you feel? In the poem Dulce et Decorum Est, this was exactly how us soldiers felt, when we were tired and weak, trying desperately to stay alive even though we found it difficult to walk straight, ‘knock kneed’.
In some sickening way I am glade that I still have one arm, ‘Legless, sewn short at elbow’, because at least I haven’t lost everything in my life. This can be compared to Dulce et Decorum Est as we glad to still be alive. That pleasant word ‘sleep’, acting like my mother, it makes the shock go away for a little while, leaving me in peace. ‘Till gathering sleep gad mothered them from him’. The girls don’t want to touch me anymore because I don’t look like a real human. In Dulce et Decorum Est we were also depressed, as we also wanted to be loved, as we had not seen our loved ones for such a long time.
The nurses in the hospital are like the pretty girls in my town. However now they don’t want to touch me. I am an outcast, these are very strong word, as if he had this word, from somebody else, and that person had said this horrible word directly to his face, making him very upset. They hate touching me because they all think I am diseased. ‘All of them touch him like some queer disease’. My smooth tanned skin has now turned into a pale and saggy breast as I have lost so much blood, I have never had a chance to recover. ‘He’s lost his colour very far from here’.
In Dulce et Decorum Est we also had gone through many changes like the disabled man, at the start we were fit, strong young men, however we got so tired that we were sleep walking, ‘men marched asleep’, and we were so ill that we were ‘coughing like hags’. That unintelligent shell took my lifetime in a few seconds, ‘Half his lifetime lapsed in the hot race’, my veins ran dry, and chunky purple blood forced itself out my thigh. ‘Leap of purple spurted from his thigh’, just like the soldier who was flung into the wagon, as his eyes turned bright white… ‘ Like a devil’s sick of sin’.
I will never forget the memories of blood running down my leg, I used to think I was a real man, like a hero, ‘after the matches, carried shoulder-high’ but heroes don’t end up being unwanted. ‘He asked to join’, it was my chose so I some way it was partly my fault that this had happened to me. Their said ‘yes’ straight away, even though I was too young, it was probably because I was so strong. ‘He didn’t have to beg’. The recruits knew I was lying about my age but they didn’t care, ‘Smiling they wrote his lie, aged nineteen years’, I now wish they did say something, then none of this would happened to me.
Wilfred Owen is trying to get through to the reader that these young men, didn’t have a clue, to what they wanted to do, and in rush they made the wrong decision. When the soldiers got back from the horror of war, large crowds of people welcomed them, this shows they got some support when they got back, as in Dulce et Delcorum Est it wasn’t even mentioned. Some were cheering happiness, however some were not cheering happiness, but cheering because they felt sorry for me. Felt sorry for him but still glade it wasn’t them.
What is going to happen to him in the future? In pain, living in this disgusting hospital? ‘now, he will spend a few sick years in institutes’? I will have no freedom to live my own life, just do what the rules consider wise, this is how we felt in Dulce et Delcorum Est, we felt trapped. I am so cold, I want to go to sleep, he is tired and cold like the solders, and we all just wanted it to be over. Now looking at the poem Suicide in the Trenches by Siegfried Sassoon. I am going to talk about a solider that is going commit suicide. He is an Unknown Soldier.
He is not given a name, all we know is that he is ‘just another youth’, this is shocking because the people are acting as if you is worth nothing, also revealed in both the other poems ‘queer disease’. I was a simple soldier boy, the young man in disabled was also a simple boy. I was for some reason happy with life, how can anybody be happy if they were fighting in this horrible war? Like both poems Dulce et Delcorum Est and Disabled, at first all men were happy with war; ‘ he asked to join’. I was always up first in the morning, ‘whistled early with the lark’.
And I differently did not worry about the bombs, I just slept through the whole night, with no worries in the world, ‘slept soundly through the lonesome dark’, however in Dulce et Delcorum Est we did not sleep easily at night, as we were so scared, ‘in all my dreams, before my helpless sight… guttering, chocking, drowning. I acted as if war was a beautiful dream. After a while, as winter slowly took its time to pass, things started to change, changes also occurred in the both other poems, for example in Dulce et Delcorum Est, Gas attacks would change the atmosphere, ‘ Gas!
Gas! Quick, Boys’ and the same with this poem, one day it was all gone, my confidence had disappeared. This young ‘boy’ was now like Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, he hated war, and he was also unhappy that he hated life. ‘In winter trenches, cowed and glum’. I started to get paranoid as he ran out of rum, I just thought somebody else had taken it. We soldiers in Dulce es Delcorum Est also started the get paranoid when we heard the flares, ’till on the haunting flares we turned our backs’
Things were getting to the young boy so much that he shoot himself, ‘he put a bullet through his brain’. No one spoke of him again, just like no one spoke of the Disabled man after he came back from the war. This makes me so angry, I can’t believe you people are sending these young man to war, it’s as if you are only sending them so they can die I am so furious with the parents of this ‘young boy’, because they convinced him to fight in the war. In the poem “Suicide in the Trenches”, the ‘young man’ found it intolerable in the war, because this was not what he expected.
It was the opposite, a sick and demented nightmare. In both poems “Disabled” and “Suicide in the Trenches” a ‘young man’ did not expect war to be so dreadful. The young man in “Disabled”, thought that if he joined and wore the smart uniform he would be even more striking, just like a ‘hero’ however now everybody ‘pity’s him’. In conclusion all three poems are written in verses. “Dulce et Decorum Est” is different to the other two poems, as it is about many soldiers on the frontline, where as the other two poems are about individual soldiers. Dulce et Decorum est” and “Disabled” have a similar rhyme scheme, every often lines rhyme. ‘Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer Goal’. Both writers explain in detail, how the soldiers die, showing the reader how filthy the deaths were. All three poems have gone to the limit in showing the feeling of shock and horror that was presented in 1914-1918. In the poems “Disabled” and “Suicide in the Trenches” both young men weren’t even frighten, however one day they were afraid. ‘Of fear yet came’. In all three poems, we are given a description of youth at war.
All the poems show the detail of the slow and painful deaths of the soldiers. Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon do focus on individual acts and events, but at the same time the two writers use the readers imagination to assist their message. When these men were meant to be heroes, there turned out to be sufferers. Overall in Dulce et Decorum est it is evident that this poem is an descriptive poem, this is a similarity in Disabled. On the other hand looking at Suicide in the trenches it seems in this poem its prevails more of a poetic type to describe the war poems.
Overall all three poems describe the feelings of people in the war and their experiences in regards to their feelings. Although in Dulce et Decorum est it seems to include several soldiers as apposed to one individual. It is as if the poem is being told as a story, Wilfred Owen is going into great detail about how the soldiers are reacting when they lose they boots, the soldiers feet have been cut by sharp rocks, however the attitude of the soldiers are heroic, that they still march on, “Men marched asleep, many had lost their boots but limped on, blood shot”.
It is not very poetic as it goes not rhyme, but describes in great detail the state the soldiers are in. All three poems are talking about young men, fighting in the war. I personally enjoyed writing this poem, as it made me realise the true meaning of life. And most importantly all have a message to the reader. This war is now over.