Compare and contrast “Dulce Et Decorum Est” and “Charge Of The Light Brigade”. What images of war do these two poems convey? We have been studying the war poems Dulce Et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen and Charge Of The Light Brigade by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Dulce Et Decorum Est was written during the First World War from 1914 to 1918 whilst Charge Of The Light Brigade was composed in the 19th century, and describes a battle that took place during the Crimean War.
Both poems give a different impression of war. Wilfred Owen writes about the pity of war and his responsibility to warn other generations of the horror and propaganda of it, whereas Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem is about the honour, courage and glory of fighting in a war. In Dulce Et Decorum Est, the title is Latin and appears in the last two lines “The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est; / Pro patria mori”. The last two lines sum up Wilfred Owen’s feelings towards war.
It translates “The old Lie; Sweet and honourable is to die for your country” He feels that war is sorrowful, that it definitely isn’t sweet or honourable to die for your country and that war is a propaganda to encourage young vulnerable people to lay their lives on the line. Dulce Et Decorum Est tells the reader about the absolute horror and effects of the war on young men. The first verse is slow paced with a morose and almost eerie tone, and describes the scene and the soldiers.
The first line, “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,” portrays the exhaustion and shows that the young strong men have been badly affected as if they have gone through hell. Another simile appears in the second line that also illustrates their struggle “coughing like hags”, comparing them to old, poorly scraggly women which contrasts with the usual image of fine upstanding young soldiers. “Haunting flares” suggests that there is always a faint orange glow of gunfire that is ever present, looming over them waiting to strike, therefore haunting.
Also flares are used in times of danger and “flares” could be a subliminal message to warn of the danger and exposure and vulnerability of soldiers battle. The poem uses a metaphor to tell us that the soldiers retreat from the front line weary and stumbling “… began to trudge. / Men marched asleep. ” This line is emphatic and creates a sense of their endeavour to return to a safe place to rest. Their effort is also shown through the line “Many had lost their boots / But limped on, blood shod” and tells the reader that they travelled on no matter what; even injured with blood encrusted feet.
The repetition in “All went lame; all blind;” is effective because it shows that they are beyond caring about life and death and that they are all affected badly by the war. The second stanza moves on to suggest that the soldiers are under pressure and panicking because of chemical warfare. Chemical warfare was in its infancy during the First World War; where mustard gas was used and had a yellow colour, so when the soldiers saw it they had to put gasmasks on. The gasmasks weren’t very effective, and as a result many men died. Wilfred Owen illustrates the horror and alarm the gas causes very well. Quick, boys! ” is an example of the urgency to fit the gasmasks by using an exclamation point. Also the word “boys” suggests a sense of comradeship and loyalty to the fellow soldiers. “And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime” is a good comparison as it explains the effects of the mustard gas which burns the lungs from the inside until they run out of oxygen. The sentence “I saw him drowning. ” shows that Wilfred Owen was an eye-witness to this horrific event. Wilfred Owen then goes on and describes the consumed soldier in a graphic and dreadful way “He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning. It’s effective as it shows the effects of the gas on the young man and as he is running out of air, he is pleading for help and is gurgling and sputtering. This stanza is written reflectively, as if Owen is looking back in retrospect. In the third verse Wilfred Owen is also reflective and gives another graphic illustration of the almost dead man. “… the white eyes writhing in his face,” tells us that the soldier’s eyes are contorting and twisting out of place because of the suffering he is undergoing. He gives a direct appeal to the reader “If you could hear,” which involves the reader and emphasises what he’s trying to convey.
Dulce Et Decorum Est is very different in many ways to Charge Of The Light Brigade. Firstly the tone. Dulce Et Decorum Est is set in a sorrowful and pitiful tone whereas Charge Of The Light Brigade is much more of a positive tone. Charge Of The Light Brigade is about the honour and glory of war in contrast to the pity of war as Wilfred Owen writes about. There is a rhyming scheme in Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem that is much more noticeable for the rhythm is upbeat and striking. Dulce Et Decorum Est has a rhyming scheme that is more subtle and you wouldn’t pick it out straight away but it’s still there and is downbeat.
The first verse of Charge Of The Light Brigade portrays the soldiers as strong, willing, noble men; ready to ride into “the valley of Death” whereas Dulce Et Decorum Est portrays the soldiers as struggling, exhausted and fatigued. Alfred Lord Tennyson illustrates the same idea of honour and nobility throughout his poem in contrast to Wilfred Owen’s poem which discusses fear and sorrow amongst other emotions. Charge Of The Light Brigade is about the Crimean war. The Crimean War set the stage for the First World War by altering the balance in Europe.
An allied army of 600 (Britain, Austria and France) rode into Crimea to fight against the Russians, without fear and were defeated almost instantly. Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote the poem after reading an article about it. From the outset, Charge Of The Light Brigade is an exciting rhythmic poem. “Cannon to right of them, / Cannon to left of them… / Volley’d and thunder’d” This is effective as it conveys the excitement of the war, and also the courage of the men as it shows that they didn’t flinch at the loud noises of certain death and still they rode into the valley. The visual imagery in the first few stanzas is very interesting. Into the jaws of Death,/Into the mouth of Hell” is a good example of personification in the poem as it illustrates the fear and horror that the soldiers are obliviously riding into without a trace of hesitation or fear. It gives the reader a picture of the soldiers perhaps about to be chewed and swallowed by the enemy (which obviously wouldn’t be a pleasant way to die). The aural and visual imagery in Charge Of The Light Brigade differs to that in Dulce Et Decorum Est. The imagery in Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem is loud and bold. It’s certain and shows the fortitude and braveness that the whole poem suggests.
Owen Wilson’s poem’s imagery is the exact opposite; emphatic and graphic. It lingers on details and conveys the soldier’s feelings as well as their actions. The method of warfare is discussed in stanza 4 in Charge Of The Light Brigade. The weapons used by the soldiers were “sabres”, a French sword that has a curved blade. They rode horses also whereas in Dulce Et Decorum Est, trench warfare was used with weapons such as mustard gas and artillery. The difference in warfare reflects the time the wars took place as artillery is modern warfare opposed to sabres and swords.
Dulce Et Decorum Est and Charge Of The Light Brigade are two different poems about two different wars. Dulce Et Decorum Est plays the role of warning future generations about the monstrosity of war and it’s horrible effects on young men whereas Charge Of The Light Brigade promotes war and the glory and honour of taking part in it. Wilfred Owen’s poem is the most moving out of the two. It’s descriptive in a way that is emphatic and makes the reader feel pity towards the soldiers. It is a stark warning to future generations to not get involved with war. It’s messy and no good can come from it.