Attitudes to War in Dulce et Decorum est and Drummer Hodge.
Life wasn't easy for soldiers in the war as Wilfred Owen and Thomas
Hardy express strongly in their legendary poems 'Dulce et Decorum est'
and 'Drummer Hodge'. Peter Porter writes about the situation people
may find themselves in when in, his poem 'Your Attention Please', he
describes an announcement concerning a nuclear Rocket Strike.
Wilfred Owen died at the age of 25 and was killed seven days before
the end of World War 1. He is regarded as one of the most well-known
war poets of the 20th Century, having written an astonishing 110
poems. Under the influence of Romantic, early 19th Century poets such
as Wordsworth, Keats and Shelley, Owen produced 'Dulce Et Decorum Est'
which revealed the truth behind war, the grief and suffering caused.
Wilfred Owen wanted to dismiss the idea of romance as a motivation to
fight in the war; young men believed that fighting in the war would
make them heroes and that girls would be passionate about them. Of
course many men didn't have an option in the matter: wives and
girlfriends chose not to stay with their man if they didn't fight in
the war, so men were forced to join up. The fact that their partner
wouldn't stick by them was one reason but if they didn't join the
whole society would look down on them with disgrace: they weren't men
if they didn't fight for their country.
"Dulce Et Decorum Est" speaks about the severe drowsiness of the
soldiers on their way back from the front line and the sudden panic
caused when the soldiers are hit unexpectedly with a gas attack. The
poem begins with a simile, "Bent double, like old beggars under
sacks". This indicates the extent of the load the men had to carry
with them and the weariness of the men. "under sacks" gives us a
vivid picture of the heaviness and feeling of the soldiers' uniforms.
The second line brings in the aural aspects of suffering by using
words like "coughing" and "cursed". "We cursed through sludge" shows
the intense deepness of the mud, which weakens the men and causes them
Owen tries to make the readers feel pity for the men and does this
extremely well by saying "All went lame, all blind". This gives us the
image that men couldn't see or hear correctly. He uses the metaphor
"Drunk with fatigue" to illustrate the tiredness of the men. Stanza
one ends on a note of warning; the danger of which the soldiers are
unaware, as they can't hear properly.
The first and second verses are all to do with the visual and oral
images of the soldiers and the ironic sense that the men are on their
way back from the front line so they should be in less threat, yet
this is where one man is killed.
The next verse begins with a shout of danger: "Gas! Gas! Quick boys."
"Ecstasy" is used paradoxically; it shows the speed and panic of the
men as they know how important it is to get their helmets on and yet
their fingers fail them. The poet tricks...