Before the 1st world war a lot of poems were written to glamorize the true picture of war. I feel that the Battle of Blenheim tries to subtly depict the true picture of a bloody, horrific and terrifying war. When war broke out and innocent young men in the prime of their life were sent to die, to see their friends bodies torn apart in front of them it gave them the will to write poems about the true reality of war. This gave people a different way of thinking about an old saying ”Dulce et Decorum est”.
My essay is about the contrast between the great and honorable vision and the terrifying and gruesome vision of war.
In the First World War there was a soldier named Wilfred Owen, he wrote many poems on the shocking truth of war. One of them is named Futility, this is my favorite. He also wrote a poem called Anthem for Doomed Youth, both of these poems were written in the war and were written to shock. They are very graphic and create images in your mind of despair, sadness and chaos. The other poem I have red is the Battle of Blenheim, this comes across slightly more subtle and for me gets the anti-war message of war across because this creates a pleasant image of an old man on a fine summers evening in the garden with his grandson asking innocent but revealing questions. It does, however put over a different message of a battle which was fought by the English against the French, where this poor soul whose skull it was, died.
This is done in such a way that is not in your face ”War Is Bad” but much more clever. An old man who’s saying what a great victory and a young boy asking a simple innocent question ”why” and the old man not knowing finds the only thing he can say ”But ‘Twas a famous victory”. This poem is saying in a cleaver way ”what good came out of this war”, and the answer is none, pointless.
The poem Futility is much more touching in the way the poet has written it. It makes you slow and sad, it is like the poem has a despairing tempo and the poet has given up on life. This poem captures the true futility of war and I think the poem gets the message across perfectly. It doesn’t directly describe war in a bloody or gory way and doesn’t tell you how terrible it is to be in battle. However maybe he explores the true emotions of every soldier but puts it in such a beautiful poetic way.
In the war the soldiers were ordered to move the dead body in to the sun on the mere pathetic hope that it might bring life back to him. This is what the poet is writing about, the pure futility of these actions and of course war itself.
The words Wilfred Owen uses are perfect to capture the pure despair of this situation. The first stanza is describing how every day the sun has woke this man but for today is different. The sun is spoke of as if it has human warmth and gives life to the world. For example ”Gently its touch awoke him once” this gives me the impression that the sun is alive.
And in line seven ”The kind old sun will know”, again suggesting that it is a human. The poet is also writing of men doing tragic things for something to hold onto.’ ‘If any thing might rouse him now the kind old sun will know” and really knowing their actions are hopeless and pure futility. The writer is so depressed, so fed up with war it’s as if he has given up hope. Him and his soldiers are finding it hard to live with the true reality of war.
The second stanza is asking the same question as in the poem The Battle of Blenheim and that is ”why?” Why did the fatuous sunbeams toil to break earth’s sleep at all? What is the point of the sun bringing life just for men to destroy each other? The attitude of this poet is shown many times, such as, instead of referring to the earth as a warm planet he refers to it as a cold star. Altogether Futility and the Battle of Blenheim are very different poems but ask and answer the same questions, ”what’s the point?” pointless, futility. ”What good has come out of it?” None.
Anthem of Doomed Youth is a very different poem it is shocking and creates images in your mind of blood and tears being shed on the battlefield. This poem seems to be protest against how quickly the memories die for those to whom we owe so much. The poem is a comparison between the grand ceremonies that were given to everyone who died in the Victorian times (with all due respect given) and the unceremonious slaughter of men dying as cattle. No bells, no choir, no candles just the ‘monstrous anger of the guns. The only thing worth any thing is the tears shed by the ones that loved them.
The poem illustrates Owens anger and disgust at mindlessness of war. Men laying down their lives in appalling conditions and for what. The images that Owen sets in my mind are in no way glamorous or heroic, they are disturbing and saddening, for example ”The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells” compared to the harmonic chorus of a funeral choir.
The difference between Owens poems and The Battle of Bleinham is major. The textures of Owens poems are more real and have a greater impact on me. He achieves this by using similes and the sound of words to create an atmosphere of cold depression on the battlefield. Owens poetry is the best I have read because it leaves me thinking with those images in my head about the true meaning of war and not just the legend ”Dulce et Decorum est” which I think is what he aimed to do. The Battle of Blenheim is a wonderful poem but has a very different sound and feel to it. It is very clever in its own way, but it does not have the same affect on me as the poetry by Wilfred Owen. I think he is one of the best poets ever.