Looking At Conveying Attitudes To War English Literature Essay

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The rhyme schemes of both poems are very different which reflects the differing attitudes that the poets have towards the war. The Soldier is a traditional Italian sonnet which is written in iambic pentameter and uses a rhyme scheme of abab cdcd efg efg, by using this rhyme scheme Brooke gives the reader a musical kind of feeling, it is uplifting and glorious with a definite flow and rhythm. In contrast to this Dulce uses a continuous rhyme scheme of abab cdcd etc which gives the poem a sharp, harsh and sudden kind of impact, almost like a shot gun or machine gun. Although Dulce is loosely written in iambic pentameter, similar to the soldier, it has variations in the syllable counts for each line and together with Owen's use of caesura this prevents any flow or rhythm in the poem, this is a complete contrast to the Soldier which is smooth and fluid. By breaking with the traditions of poetry in this way Owen is highlighting that his war is not musical or glorious, Owens war is not a rhythmic dance.

This contrast between the two poems is again highlighted in the sentence structure used by both poets. Brooke's the soldier uses fluid and long sentences that are very well linked, in fact throughout this whole poem Brooke only uses three long sentences over 14 lines. In doing this Brooke creates a soothing musical feel for the reader. In Dulce however, Owen uses short and sudden sentences like 'men marched asleep' and 'drunk with fatigue' that increase the impact of the poem and creates a distinctly unmusical and harsh tone.

In The Soldier Brooke used relatively few literary devices. The main one he focused on was the personification of England to convey to the reader his strong patriotic attitude towards the war. In this poem England is seen as the creator, Brooke talks about 'her' as a devoted mother, he uses words like 'bore' giving a sense of pregnancy, 'shaped' and 'made aware' giving a sense of bringing up and 'washed' giving a sense of maternal care. With this Brooke is highlighting to the reader that England created and nurtured these people and because of that they should give something back by fighting for her, highlighted in the line 'gives somewhere back', he also associates death in defence of mother England with glory and honour.

By contrast to this in Dulce Owen take the stance that death for ones country is ghastly and unbecoming, in fact this poem could come across as unpatriotic however Owen's attitude is not against his country but against war. This poem is an evocative look at the damage done by war and the lack of glory thereof. Owen utilises words that have definite negative connotations like 'fatigue', 'vile', 'incurable' and 'froth-corrupted'. Even taken out of the context of this poem it would be difficult to find positive connotations to these words but Owen uses them to highlight to the reader the ghastly and ugly nature of war. Owen also uses the disturbing harsh verbs 'guttering', 'choking' and 'drowning' which highlights that not only is the soldier suffering but just how horrific his death is.

The first line of The Soldier directly contrasts Owen's view that death for ones country is ghastly and unbecoming. The narrator uses the conditional tense 'if I should die' which gives the image of him fantasising or dreaming about what a magnificent honour it would be to die for your country, he is clearly undaunted by his likely demise.

Brooke's The Soldier approaches the horrors of war in an indirect and romantic manner, and example of this can be found in the line 'some corner of a foreign field' Brooke is using this as a symbol for the simple graveyards that soldiers were buried in. Brooke also uses the noun 'dust' as a symbol for a dead soldier in the lines 'richer dust concealed' and 'dust England bore'. Both of these examples are somewhat euphemistic and highlight to the reader that Brooke's attitude to the war is much lighter than that of Owen in Dulce.

Owen uses demonic and hideous imagery in Dulce which is designed to increase the reader's sense of revolution, the alliteration in 'watch the white eyes withering' tries to recreate the sheer agony that the soldier is enduring. Owen follows this with the simile 'devil's sick of sin' which highlights that humans can cause such pain, cruelty, anguish and suffering that even Satan would be sickened. By using these two very powerful devices Owen cleverly removes the delusion of a clean and painless war.

An attitude that both poets present to war in their poems is the idea of transformation of a soldier although it is presented in contrasting ways. In The Soldier the idea of transformation of the soldier comes in two different but positive ways. Firstly when referring to the foreign fields in which the soldier will be buried Brooke states that that corner will be 'forever England', highlighting that because an English soldier lies there then a piece of England lies there. Through this statement Brooke is emphasising that the soldier himself has been transformed from just being English into England itself. The second transformation in the poem comes in the second stanza and is highlighted in the line 'this heart, all evil shed away'. Here Brooke is implying that the soldier will be transformed from a normal ordinary person with evil in his heart, to a cleansed soul who will live forever through England, with death for your country comes great honour and transformation into a pure soul, forever remembered.

In contrast to this Owen in Dulce uses the idea of a transformation of soldiers in a very negative way. By use of the simile 'bent double like old beggars' Owen has taken the proud, smartly uniformed healthy young men being waved off by their loved ones and transformed them into a group of people hunched over, too malnourished and beaten down by exhaustion, pain and fear to even stand up straight. These strapping young soldiers have been transformed to the level of beggars on the street who have not slept in a bed for weeks. In doing this Owen is highlighting the reality of war and not some false glorification, he is showing just how extreme the situation was for the young men. The simile on the second line 'coughing like hags' also serves the same purpose.

Both poets present nature in their poems but in contrasting ways. In The Soldier Brooke presents nature in a romantic and glorious way. The 'flowers', 'rivers' and 'suns of home' are characteristics of the English countryside where the soldier was born and raised. Together these three images create an idealised version of pastoral England; this is very much in keeping with the attitude of Brooke through out the poem. In Dulce, on the other hand, Owen presents nature by using the line 'cursed through sludge'. This gives the reader the image of the once green fields being turned to soft mud which the soldiers then have to 'trudge' through. Owen has included these images in his poem to highlight that not only does the war have a horrific and devastating effect on the soldiers but also on the countryside on which the war is being fought, also in keeping with Owens attitude to war.

After studying both poems I feel that The Soldier by Brooke was an enjoyable read. The poet's thoughts and feelings are expressed clearly throughout the poem by use of personification, repetition, tone and structure. Brooke presents an uplifting and somewhat philosophical attitude towards war, he advocates fighting to defend one's country and with that comes glory. However with hindsight this poem comes across as a naive and not very truthful representation of war, although I do believe it does show what the general attitude towards war was in 1914 when it was written and probably gave great comfort to the loved ones of soldiers who were going off to war. Dulce on the other hand I feel is a much more realistic poem, Owen uses vivid and graphic imagery to convey the horrific and terrible suffering caused by war. With all the literary devices, including similes and alliteration, the harsh, negative tone and structure of the poem Owen has conveyed his attitude to war in a powerful and moving way. With this poem Owen has left me in no doubt that fighting for ones country, in reality, is gory and gruesome rather than glorious and glamorous.

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