Compare and contrast the poems Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred
Owen and The Soldier by Rupert Brooke. What are the poets' attitudes
towards war and how do they convey these attitudes?
Wilfred Owen's "Anthem for Doomed Youth" and Rupert Brooke's "The
Soldier" express opposing views towards war and matters related to it.
Owen condemns war as the cause of immense and painful loss of youths,
killed like animals. He also attacks the church, generally held to
preserve human life and dignity, implying it is powerless and
irrelevant in a war situation. Brooke expresses ready acceptance (his
view is meant to be the general view) of possible death on his
country's behalf in grateful return to her for having "bore, shaped
and made aware" him and enriching him spiritually. There is no
reference to the horrors and pain of war. Apart from the poets'
different attitudes towards war, there are many other differences such
as tone, imagery and language.
In 'The Soldier', Brooke's sense of indebtedness to his country
completely blots out any sense of loss or regret over possible death
on her behalf. Brooke doesn't even mention war in his poem. He is
ready to give "back the thoughts by England given". He accepts death
in war as a suitable repayment to his country for what England has
done for him. England has given him birth, her "flowers", "ways to
roam", "air", "rivers" and "suns" and made him like every other
English person: special, privileged and worthy. In the line "In that
rich earth, a richer dust concealed," his is the "richer dust", made
by England. Here his physical being created and nurtured by England is
gratefully returned to her. His appreciation and gratitude to England
ring sincerity as reflected by his reference to these simple things
(flowers, air etc) - in other words, these things bear testimony to
his sincerity. If Brooke had mentioned materialistic things like
special rights, possession or power then it gives rise to the thought
that his gratitude is questionable, because he has enjoyed privileges
denied to others.
In the second stanza, Brooke whole-heartedly declares that he will
return to England what he has been given. In his poem, Brooke doesn't
criticise war or religion but emphasises whole-hearted readiness to
return to England what he has been given. The spiritual being created
and enriched by England is returned gratefully. Brooke doesn't mention
anything about the horrors of war. Even death is not presented as
something repulsive or of a loss but instead as a repayment to his
country. He feels indebted to England and is completely happy to
settle his debt. He will return to England what she gave him - his
"dust" and delightful "thoughts".
Brooke's poem has a confident tone of quiet conviction. The whole poem
sounds proud and dignified. Much of the time Brooke just praises
England and this makes the poem seem cheerful even. The first four
lines of his poem are very patriotic "If I...