Free Poetry Analysis Essay Example
Dulce et Decorum Est, Wilfred Owen and
In Dulce et Decorum Est, Wilfred Owen starts by using similes to describe the protagonists of the poem; before actually referring to them with nouns or pronouns. “[L]ike old beggars” and “coughing like hags” are similes, which have been used to introduce the war soldiers for the first time. From the very beginning of the poem, Owen is trying to draw images - like a movie- to help the reader imagine the situation clearly. In the fourth line of the third stanza, there is the phrase “distant rest” which can have two meanings and refer to both the literal meaning of the word “rest” and the fact that peace and tranquility is so far from these soldiers. In the line “Men marched asleep” Owen is referring to exhaustion of the soldiers after a hard day and has used exaggeration (using the word “asleep” instead of “exhausted.”) to make the poem more impressive. The rest of the stanza keeps on describing the horrible fatigue that the soldiers are experiencing, while walking back to their camps. The rhythm of these lines gives the reader the idea of dullness and boringness, which is similar to what the soldiers were feeling.
In the next stanza, the tone of the poem suddenly changes. The poem moves from exhausting hypnagogic fatigue to an alarming panic, using certain words, exclamation marks, and a suitable sentence structure to transfer the feeling of “ecstasy”. In the next two lines:
“But someone still was yelling out and stumbling / And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime” and “In all my dreams, before my helpless sight / He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning" the poet has used all verbs in present continuous which makes the reader feel like this tragedy is happening right now and gives the poem a more melancholic sad tone.
In the last stanza, the poet decides to involve “you” or the reader inside the poem. The poet directly addresses the readers and asks them to put themselves in his shoes. Then he describes his horrible dreams for the readers and wishes that they could realize just how horrifying they are, but then regrets the fact that they never can; and by this, he distances himself from the readers, becoming more isolated. In these four lines “If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood/ Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, / Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud / of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,” the poet explicitly describes the horrible way the soldier’s body is destroyed in front of the narrator’s eyes; which has a high level of realism. The most important message of the poem lies in the last two lines, which is in Latin. The poet, after talking to the reader about his horrific experience at war, now goes on telling his true attitude toward this phenomenon. He does not think that fighting a war is either honorable or glorifying for soldiers; he only views it as a destructive life-sucking tragedy, which is destroying humanity. But at the same time, he believes that the reader cannot understand this unless they are in the exact situation that he has been in.
The message that the poet of In Flanders Fields is trying to convey to the readers is fundamentally different from Owen’s message. In Flanders Fields is glorifying fighting in a war and being killed during and as a result of it. Poppies are a type of flowers that used to grow out of veterans’ graves. The use of this flower in the very first line shows how honorable “dying for your country” is to John McCrae. The narrator is supposedly one of the soldiers who have died in the war and he believes that the poppies mark the place of all the dead veterans “in the sky”. According to myths, the heaven is located in the sky, so the soldiers who have died in war are immediately transferred there. The larks are flying high in the sky and singing, but the sound of their songs is lost through the sound of guns that are going off honoring the dead. Larks are known for their rhythmic songs. Because of their cheerful music, they have become a symbol of joy and happiness in literature. Also in religion and mythology, they are the messenger birds, probably because of this melodiousness. Maybe here they are carrying the news of the glorious death of these veterans.
In the second stanza, the poet states that he and his comrades are now dead but when they were alive, they used to feel the dawn, see the sunset, love people and be loved by them; which lists a number of sensory imageries to make the poem more concrete.
In the last stanza, the sentence “we shall not sleep”, suggests that the narrator (himself being dead) wants everyone to continue his path and defend the country whenever it was in the danger if intruders.
The only mutual aspect that the two poems have is that they are both written about war. The attitude of the two poets (both of them being great literary figures in English Literature) is fundamentally different. Owen gives the reader a horrific image of war, which is only a single scene in the long terrifying movie of World War I, but is horrible enough to make the reader lose his or her own whole belief in the necessity of fighting a war. McCrae, on the other hand, uses tender words and images (ex: poppies, sky, love, etc.) to give a glorious image of war and encourage more people to repeat what he and his comrades have done for the country.
Of course both poets have written about the same war under the same circumstances, but it is the difference in the characteristics of individuals that makes one of them to see the war as a tragedy and the other one as a great chance to achieve patriotic honor. This is what happens in every situation of human beings’ everyday life where everyone has a different reaction to certain major events. When this happens in literature it is an interesting opportunity for the readers to see how interestingly different each writer is from the other ones.
Shmoop Editorial Team. "Dulce et Decorum Est: Stanza IV Summary." Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.
"More Animal Symbolism." Lark Symbolism. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2015. <http://www.pure-spirit.com/more-animal-symbolism/508-lark-symbolism>.
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