Before studying these poems I personally thought that war was wrong. It is a loss of life, by stupidity, by not sitting down and discussing problems. As countries go into war they gain more allies and more enemies, the whole virtue of war gets blown out of proportion. Some countries even like to go to war with countries, which do not have the same military capabilities as themselves. I think that matters do not need to be sorted out with firepower; they can be sorted out by parliaments and face-to-face discussions. War is not needed, lives should not be wasted and people’s homes and land wrecked.
I will study war poems and look into what there views on war are. I shall look into their real meanings, to see what kinds of backgrounds they have come from, how old they are, would they have any influences on other people and the ways in which the poets became influenced to write them, telling their stories as poems. This essay is to simply find out what the poets views on war are, and how these views shared or disagreed upon other members of the public when they where written. I shall study ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ by Wilfred Owen who wrote his poem while lying injured in a hospital in Scotland. ‘Vitae Lampada’ which was written in 1892 by sir Henry Newbolt. ‘The Soldier’ written in 1914 by Rupert Brooke. I chose these poems because they contrast and compare each other in certain ways.
Rupert Brooke adores his country and he supports the actions it takes. Wilfred Owen would go to war for his country but he believes that war is the wrong methods to solve differences. Henry Newbolt believes that life is gearing us up for war as he describes how school children get trained to go and defend their country.
‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ by Wilfred Owen is a poem describing what war is like from his very own eyes. Owen was sent home during the war after having been injured on the front line. While recuperating at a hospital in Scotland, he needed some way in expressing his views on what he had seen. He met Siegfried Sassoon who helped him express his feelings into poetry. From the first line he has described the agony he witnessed at war, ” bent double, like old beggars under sacks” war has aged these men, the are clearly physically drained but willing to continue on. His men are injured as the are, ” Knock-kneed” and, “coughing like hags,” stating that their medical supplies and help are quite bad. Owen uses the word, ” like” to show that his soldiers aren’t old beggars but they are acting like then because they are so drained of energy. The soldiers keep on going, overcoming their physical state, mentally trying to stay awake because they know if they stop they will be killed, and rest isn’t far away, “and towards our distant rest began to trudge.”
He shows the men’s physical by saying, “men marched asleep, many had lost their boots, but limped on, blood-shod.” Owen suggests that war turns everything from good to bad as he tells you how these soldiers felt. He uses three worded expressions such as, “coughing like hags,” “men marched asleep,” and “drunk with fatigue,” these expressions are very visual as they give you a good idea what is going on, and how these soldiers really feel. The verse is very slow but is full of factual information about what the soldiers went through and how they felt. The second verse begins to get quicker as it is describing extreme pain and anguish. “Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,” things are starting to move quicker as people are shouting and in a panic. Owen gives this poem as an eyewitness account of what he seen from his very own eyes. The soldiers are moving quickly to get their helmets on, “fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,” but, ” someone was still yelling out and stumbling” a soldier needs help as he is panicking and cant seem to get his gas mask on.
“Like a man in fire or lime…” describing how he was moving running around as if he was on fire but really shrouded in gas which he was inhaling, destroying his lungs. Green gas covered the whole area as nobody could see properly, ” dim, through the misty panes, as under I sea of green” the soldier was breathing in the green gas destroying his lungs, ” I saw him drowning” Owen seen him collapse to the ground suffering with pain. “He plunges at me guttering, choking, drowning.” The last verse of the poem slows back down again as, “behind the wagon that we flung him in” showing that the body would be taken of somewhere and buried, condemned to an early life in the soil. They describe the physical state of the soldier, “white eyes writhing in his face, his hanging face like a devils sick of sin” the life has been sucked out of the soldier and his face looks bored like a devils sick of sin.
His lungs where corrupt, filled with poisoned gas, “the blood come gargling from the froth corrupted lungs” it was disgusting, “obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud of vile” these two phrases are very powerful in describing the soldier state as they make you shiver and give you a good idea what the gas did to him. “My friend, you would not tell with such high zest, to the children ardent for desperate glory, the old lie: Dulce et Decorum Est” this is a very powerful finish to the poem because this gives you Owens impression on war, that it is wrong, it is a waste of life and people go there for the wrong reasons such as for glory. Owen focuses on the injured soldier the most in his poem; he does this because he wants you to realize the consequences of war and what can happen to you. This picture of the soldier, “guttering choking, drowning” will haunt him for the rest of his life. I expected this poem to just tell you what war was really like; Owen gives gory details of a soldier dying to scare you of the idea of war. Overall Owens poem is really effective and I strengthens my view that war is wrong.
‘The Soldier’ was written by Rupert Brooke who was a well-educated man and a fine athlete. He went to war in the love of his country, writing a sonnet just before he left. Rupert starts the poem of with the word, “if” making you feel that this poem is just in case something should happen. “If I should die, think this of me, that there is some corner of a foreign field that is forever England” this displays how proud he is to be English and he will die anywhere still proud to be English, giving up his life for England. Rupert seems to have strong feelings for England as he says, ” in that rich earth, a richer dust concealed.”
When Brooke refers to “a richer dust” he means that when he decomposes his body will make the soil richer, Brooke believes that England is superior to any other country. “A pulse in the eternal mind, no less gives somewhere back the thought by England given” thinking about England makes him feel good and proud to be English. Brooke means when he says, ” the eternal mind” that he will think of England forever in the everlasting mind. When Brooke goes up to heaven it will be an English heaven, he will think about England’s, “sights and sounds,” when his heart is a peace, “under an English heaven.” Rupert’s family would of felt comforted by this poem, as they would know that he would of wanted to go to war for England. Brooke feels that death is going to an English heaven, this pleases him as his loves his country and wants to think about it in his eternal (everlasting) mind. The tone of the poem is quite patriotic as Rupert shares the feelings that he has for his country. I think that Rupert wrote this poem before he went to war because he wrote as the first line, “If I should die.” I think that Rupert doesn’t care If he dies or not, but war still equals death because he talks about death in the poem. I still believe that war is wrong but if your country is calling for you to go to war you should go and honour its name.
‘Vitae Lampada’ was written by sir Henry Newbolt In 1892, he was a lawyer, playwright, novelist and a magazine editor. He writes about a schoolboy cricketer who grows up to first in a war. He starts the poem off by saying, “there’s a breathless hush on the close tonight, ten to make and the match to win,” there is suspense on the pitch, the crowd are silent as the last man comes into bat, with ten run needed to win, the pressure is on him. It is a, “bumping pitch” and there is a, “blinding light” which suggests that the odds are against the schoolboy. He is not doing it for, “the sake of a ribboned coat,” or, ” the selfish hope of seasons fame” he is doing it for his school, to win the match for his teammate. His captain put his hand on his shoulder and told him to, “play up lad, play up and play the game.” The second verse changes the scene to the, ” sands of the desert” which are, “stained blood red.”
The schoolboy is now at war playing the game. The sand are red with the, “wreck of the square” which is a military formation, most of the army are dead, the machine gun has jammed, “the colonels dead” the schoolboy is now left the rally the ranks. “The river of death has brimmed its banks” this means that a lot are dead, there colonel is dead (leader) “England’s far and honour a name” they are far home their home country and cant honoured it unless they defend it with courage in battle.
At the end of each verse there is repetition, “Play up lad and play the game,” in the third and last verse it describes this line as the schools motto, “while in her place the school is set” and, “everyone of her sons must here” they remember this motto and ” beat through life like a torch in flame.” The officer’s call, “play up lad, play up and play the game” is very strange because war is not a game, war is serious, and it is the matter between life and death. The message in verse one is to do your best to win the game, don’t win it for yourself but for the entire team and your school. The message in verse two is too keep fighting on, you cant honour your country by just going to war, you have to be brave in battle and continue to fight never giving up. The message in verse three is about the school years on, they have remembered this famous phrase as their motto, it is the motto they will live their life upon and never forget it.
I am going to compare ‘vitae Lampada’ with ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ I am doing this because the two poems contrast each other. Wilfred Owen has an idea of war being wrong and not a game but sir Henry Newbolt has an idea that war is what we get build up for in school and war is like a game. I think that war is nowhere near a game; no game can compare you for war.
After studying these poems I still firmly believe war is wrong. The graphic account of Wilfred Owens poem made me think this more strongly. The pain and suffering is too much for any man to go through and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.