he Send Off and The Drum
The Send Off and The Drum both explore the truths about war outlining the horrors and effects of war through language and poetic techniques. Owen attacks the understanding between those at home who promote war as a romantic, glorious and heroic exercise and dying for one’s country as an act of nobility and with this who fight and die in war and who know the true horror of the battlefield. Scott explores the desperations caused by battle. He also makes clear that he does not consider war as a fight of honour; more as a gruesome game to see who can be more stubborn to admit what they are doing is wrong.
Both poets show similar thoughts about war and how it is betrayed to a glorious act of heroicness. In the opening stanzas of the drum the poets mention the sounds and tones which follow the soldiers. In The drums case it is the ‘drums discordant sound’. This instrument is used for the historical march of the soldiers. Which in this case is confusing to the men. As they are ‘parading round, and round’. This gives a sense of never ending war. Each day the men follow the same routine until it is there turn to face the enemy in battle.
Owen immediately challenges the positive connotation of the send off in the first line. Our first image is of “close darkening lanes”. This has two meanings; the first meaning is the lanes fatefully enclose the soldiers in their closeness, they cannot turn back, the second meaning is that “darkening” is emphasized as a metaphor of the soldier’s dark destiny to which their farewell is sending them and that is to be killed in war. John Scott talks about the pathetic reasons which people go to war. He explains how the young are almost excited by the surrender of the opposition. To sell their liberty for charms’.
This line suggests that people would rather sell there independence for money. Regarding how it would affect their country. The alliteration used in the phrase “grimly gay” in the send off alerts the readers the forced gaiety of the men and ambiguity of their supposed adventure isn’t everything that is thought to be at first. “Grimly Gay” also contradicts the concepts of grimness and gaiety, which captures a focus for the mixture of excitement and fear in the men and the country for which they sacrifice their lives for.
Scott mentions the line ‘ambition’s voice commands’. This word ambition almost represents the lives of many of the soldiers fighting in the war. Either there ambition to return to there country or to fight for there country. It can also be in replacement for the general who commands his soldiers to war. A sense of death is built up in the next line. ‘To March, and fight, and fall, in foreign lands’. This shows the reality of war, you can fight and put your life on the line, but you may also lie dead in the hands of the enemy and fall in there territory.
The send off portrays the sense of something sinister and shameful about the operation, in the uncertainty of the men’s future and in the prospect of the injured and weary return of “too few” of them. Owen talks about how complete strangers to him went to war. ‘They were not ours’ this explains how he talks about random people being in the war. The imagery for the gifts of flowers for good fortune is mixed with that of flowers for a funeral wreath. It is as though the gift of flowers is the soldiers first war wound, a prelude to a course of events that must end in death.
Scott shows exactly what the true meaning to war is and how it affects the life of others. He speaks of the ‘burning towns’ ‘mangled limbs’ ‘windows tears’. These quotations explain the sense of horror and slaughter which took place in the Napoleonic wars. The way Scott expresses his views on the war are the tragic ways in which widows had to cope without there husband. Those who lost there homes and had to migrate to another area. Owen shows this kind of horror as well but not in the magnitude of Scott. ‘ As men’s dead’. The apostrophe in the word men shows the extensive number of soldiers who were killed.
Wilfred Owen ends his poem almost like the ending of a war and how they leave the allies country. ‘Shall they return to beating of great bells, in wild train loads? A few, a few, too few for drums and yells’. The word ‘shall’ suggest that you do not really know if soldiers will return in a good way. He almost contradicts himself when he talks about loads of men returning then he says a few. This shows that not even he is sure about the outcome of returning soldiers. Part of the soldier’s betrayal is how they are dehumanized and treated so indifferently by the authorities that process them.
Terms such as “siding-shed” and “train-loads” creates the concept of produce rather than people being transported. The structure of the poem is broken up into stanzas with lines long and short. The shorter lines are a lot more sinister in tone which talks about ominous events that are going to happen in war. The lengthier lines are more informative. This irregularity of long and short lines and stanzas gives the poem motion which shows the beat of marching men and a moving train. The structure of the drum is completely different it is set out in two stanzas which echo the beat of the drum which is parading around and around.
That is why the use of repetition is applied for this line in both stanzas. I agree in a sense that Scott’s poem is more effective on its approach to get its message through to the reader. The reason for this being is that it can relate with the reader more because he is writing a personal response. Noticeable by the use of ‘I’ this means that he can communicate in a more individual way. He also gives more ideas on what soldiers and families would have had to see through the war stages. Not only does he give a personal statement but takes into consideration of how it may have affected the lives of others.
He also shows the gruesomeness which occurs in battle. However Owen also has written a very informative poem. As he has the experience of being a solider he has more of an idea how the war worked. Unlike John Scott he did not oppose to violence. Maybe that is why Scott could have been biased towards the idea of war. Only pin pointing the parts to war which were bad, and not those which commemorate the honour and remembrance which you receive after fighting in the war. But Owen also feels the same way about the war and he has been there.
I suppose these poems would not be similar because they are both from different stages of time. One which was written in the Napoleonic war and the other in world war one. That is why there is a difference in writing styles and issues which are discussed. The reason for John Scott’s poem being more violent maybe because they did not use weapons like guns and explosives so battles with swords maybe have been more brutal. Taking this into consideration I think both poems have different ways in which to get there message across so they are equally as effective.