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Dead Body in War Poetry
Analysis of Poets
War is a brutal reality on the face of history. Thousands of lives have been wasted in the name of battles and millions of people were affected by it. Poet is a rather sensitive part of our society and feels the brutality of war more than a normal individual. During World War I, the world went through havoc during which millions of lives were shaken. In this era, a lot of poets also emerged due to the depression the society went through. Some of the noticeable names out of these are Wilfred, Thomas Hardy, Isaac Rosenberg and Rupert Brooke. These poets had a lot of differences in their personalities and writing styles however one thing was rather common: they used soldier's dead body as a symbol of death while describing war. Although they way they used it, was different in its own way but this similarity cannot go unnoticed (Means, 1994).
Wilfred Owen was a brave solider who fought on behalf of France, in war trenches in World War I. However, before that he did write few poems, out of which "Dulce et Decorum Est," was considered as a master piece. Owen was born in a rich family, which was subjected to bankruptcy when he was two years old. This left his family in a pessimist state of mind from which they couldn't recover, and this left a great mark on Owen's personality who then turned out to be a rather serious yet smart child (Soudah, 1988).
Fighting his internal combats, Owen decided to join Army after visiting several hospitals where wounded war soldiers were kept (Kirreh, 1986). However, after joining Army, he came across the harsh reality that war is brutal and it's never over; in fact, it stays inside those who fought it, forever. While fighting in Beaumont Hamel, on the Somme, he wrote letters back home which described the war experience better than any historian.
After getting injured in an explosion and returning to England where he was diagnosed with a shell shock, he wrote this impressive poem called, "Dulce et Decorum Est." this poem was successful in making general public aware of how the war is like in trenches, a reality which the British government intended on hiding from the local mass. The poem depicts the horrendous conditions that the soldiers had to go though in World War I and is written in a manner that it leaves grotesque images in one's mind (Moore, 1919).
Owen has written this poem in a manner that each stanza is serving a different purpose. The poem surrounds around a sickening experience of a manner that is slowly approached by death after a gas attack, with war being fought around him. In the first stanza, Owen described the environment around the dying soldiers. He use strong words like "trudge," "marches asleep," drunk with fatigue" and "old beggars under sacks" to explain that soldiers no longer had the zest, health and energy to fight this war and they were slowly dying inside of hopelessness. In fact, their souls were wretched of hopelessness and they were already dead inside with no sign of life.
After explaining how terrible were war conditions were for a soldier, he moved onto explaining the fear that was crawling inside his mind. Owen used a word, "ecstasy" to explain the nervous attitude of a solider which ultimately leads to a horrible death. The exhaustive and weary experience that the solider has obliterated when the writer used "ecstasy" as an expression. It stresses on the rush of hormones that soldiers went through when their lives were in danger and also develops a peculiar confused state for the reader. "Flound'ring like a man in fire or lime" and "As under a green sea, I saw him drowning." Were the lines which rather successful in explaining how the mustard gas took over the solders, creating havoc in their lungs and then slowly killing every live cell in their bodies just the way water penetrates into a body of a drowning man slowly chocking him to death.
The last stanza is the most powerful part of Owen's work in which he used sentences like had "blood come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs," and having to "watch the white eyes writhing in his face."
"If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;"
These sentences were used in illustrating his experience of following a wagon which was carrying a body of a dead solider who died of a gas attack in the trench, with the blood coming out of his poisoned lungs and eyes wide open of fear and dismal. Owen later on, explained the war stories might be heroic but the experiences were horrifying.
While explaining the slow death of a soldier, Owen also paid attention on describing the trenches of the war. They were unsafe grounds where soldiers were subjected to open hazards, attack of enemies and natural calamities as well.
It is the use of similies and metaphors which helps in leaving an impeccable impact on readers.
Rupert Brooke was an inspirational poet who was greatly influenced by war however he never got a chance to take part in it himself (Hickman, 1994). He wrote the poem "the solider" in 1914 in which he wrote as a first person who took part in World War I. As compared to other writers as Owen and Hardy, he depicted a rather positive image of war, in which he explained that fighting a war for a just cause is a noble deed and nothing is better than dying for one's own country. On top of that, "The Solider," helped Brooke prove his point to a greater deal.
In this poem, Brooke embodied a persona of a writer representing England. Brooke's solider is young, full of zest and patriotism for his country and is anticipating encountering and beating death in war. When this young solider dies, he asks his fellow, family and country not to mourn or feel sorrow for him; they should rather feel proud that the land where his body is lying, is now part of England and he has managed to win his country a piece of foreign land.
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
Furthermore, Brooke explains that as his body decays into soil, it will become more rich and fertile as now it has part of English body in it. England gave birth to this solider, raised him, nurtured him, loved him, offered him clean and fresh air to breath and beautiful lands to walk through and served him with other blessings such as clean water and sun light. Also, Brookes says that despite all the hardships of war, his heart has no wickedness but an eternal piece gifted to him by God, for his noble deeds and loving his glorious country. English people who were still back in homeland will enjoy the open and peace that his death has bestowed upon them.
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
a dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
Through this poem, Brooke used death to inflict hope into minds of English people during World War I. he avoided heavy metaphors and similies to ensure that it is well understood by all. Furthermore, the poem has a rather simple language explaining patriotism for one's country. Brooke include not horrifying or tragic war stories in this poem. He rather explained that dying for one's country and serving one's people is a kind of death one should aspire for.
He explained his country as a kind of heaven; In hearts at peace, under an English heaven. He further explained that his country embodies a persona of a loving, caring mother who bears her child and takes good care of him with love and affection ("A dust whom England bore.). furthermore, England has been mentioned as a heaven on Earth, a safe place that one can look forward to return after the war ends. Once the solider dies, his soul enters into a heaven, the England itself. The solider is at peace, now that he has reached his paradise (In hearts at peace, under an English heaven).
Brooke has used a rather simple and peaceful tone while defining war in "The Solider." He emphasized on the fact that war is just and worth fighting for, as it may bring eternal peace. Unlike many other writers, he avoided writing about gruesome war realities. May be the because he was too patriotic or may be because he never encountered a war…[continue]
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