Rupert Brooke and Wilfred Owen were both English soldier poets of the First World War but their views were very different and reflected the chasm that separated them in terms of actual war experiences. Both of these famous poets display the horrors of war in a completely different ways in these two poems, The Soldier by Rupert Brooke and Dulce Et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen. In both of these famous poems, the authors use different themes of war and death.
Ruprt Brooke was a well-educated man, he was even known as a national hero even before his death in 1915 at the age of 27. Brooke grew up from a well off family, he attended high status boarding school where his father was the headmaster. Before Brooke graduated from cambridge in 1909 and the start of World War I, he spent the majority of his time traveling and writing poetry, which is why his poetry from these times had themes of love and nature. Like most men around his age, Brooke volunteered for the service of war. Brooke joined the navy reserve; the groups first destination was Antwerp, Belgium where he would stay through the beginning of 1915. During his entire stay in Belgium, there was no military action in this region, which was a grace period where Brooke was able to write some of his most famous works such as The Soldier. The Soldier was one of his most famous and openly patriotic poems. Unfortunately, in February of 1915 Brooke was bitten by an insect and died of blood poisoning.
Wilfred owens was one of the best well-known britsish poets during World War I. Owens composed almost all of his poems in over a year, from august 1917 to september 1918. Sadly in November 1918 Owens was killed during action at the age of 25. During Owens life time only five of his poems were published. His most famous poem “Dulce et Decorum Est”. Owens experience in the war was horrifying. He would write letters to his mother describing the situations, “The awful state of the roads, and the enormous weight carried was too much for scores of men.” he waded through two and a half miles of trenches with “a mean depth of two feet of water.” Owen described a hut where he was housed at which was only 70 yards away from a howitzer that was fired every minute day and night. On January 12 occurred the march and attack of poison gas in “Dulce et Decorum Est.” where he marched three miles over a shelled road and three more along a flooded trench, where those who got stuck in heavy mud had to leave their waders, as well as some clothing and equipment, and move ahead on bleeding and freezing feet. In the cold march they were constantly under machine gun fire and heavy explosives. On March 19, he was hospitalized for a brain concussion suffered six nights earlier, when he fell into a 15-foot-deep shell hole while searching in the dark for a soldier overcome by fatigue. One wet night during this time he was blown into the air while he slept. For the next week Owen hid in a hole too small for his body, which he shared with the body of his dead friend.
Owen experienced a completely different aspect of World War I than Brooke did. Owen does not think of war as marvelous event to take part in. Owen’s attitude towards war is rebellious and chaotic. While Brooke portrays the war as being orderly and effortless. In his poem he withholds discussing the details of combat, because brooke did not experience combat in the war. While Owen wrote his poems after he experienced it himself. In brooke’s poem He imagines his own death, but rather than conveying sadness or fear at such an event, he accepts it as an opportunity to make a noble sacrifice by dying for his country. “If I should die, think only this of me: That there’s some corner of a foreign field That is forever England. There shall be In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;” Brooke imagines heaven like it would be home, full of the same sounds,sights and even dreams of England. While Owen attacks those back home who incite young boys to fight endless and hard battles. “My friend, you would not tell with such high zest To children ardent for some desperate glory, The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est:” In these lines Owen goes on confronting the readers but also the people back in his home that if they experienced what he had gone through they wouldn’t be so quick to praise the fallen soldiers who died in action. They would fibing to other generations if they thought the death on battlefields was sweet, Owen did not hold anything back with his vivid imagery. Which is contract to brooke’s poem were nowhere does he mention the horrors of war and he believes dying on the battlefield while claiming more land for one’s country is a noble, heroic, even an ideal way to go out.
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In “ Dulce et decorum est” the theme of war is suffering, reality, and patriotism. The theme of suffering is the physical pain and trauma basically summed up the description of World War I, on the battle grounds through Owens words. With the memory of the gas attack, the pain is constantly reminiscing the past and present(“Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—”). As owen argues that war is so distressing it becomes surreal. While the themes in “the soldier” is death, patriotism and the natural world. The theme death portrayed in “the soldier”, right in the beginning of his poem. The speaker talks about his own death (“If I should die, think only this of me:-A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,”), throughout his first stanza he mentions “dust”, a compelling word that makes the readers think of death and funerals. He uses “if” in the first line, normally people poetry death as being scary, but brooke imagines a life after death that appears to be peaceful and familiar. Owen uses reality to create a fine line between the men who prop up for war and the men who fight their battles. He makes it seem that only those who have fought in war can truly understand the truma when losing a soldier(‘Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,’) Owen shows how how surreal there reality really is, so his readers can understand the horrors he has went through.
Both poems show patriotism in there poems. In the “The Soldier” Brooke mentions “England” six times, he highlights the strong relationship between the soldier and England,“the soldier is a part of England, and England is like his mother.” doing this Brooke shows the importance of fighting for his country. In
“Dulce et decorum est” Owen uses patriotism in his poem by dying for your country or fighting for it. He makes it seem a lot less worthwhile than it is. He implies the people can’t understand how horrid life on the front and the soldiers fighting can’t even remember why their fighting.
To conclude both of these poems are very powerful and thick with imagery and themes of war and death. Owen’s poem “Dulce et decorum est” shows the true horror of war and the horrid experiences he faced on the front line, while Brooke’s poem “the soldier” portrays war as a beautiful and powerful way to fight for your country.
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