Compare the Different Attitudes to War Shown in the Poetry of Tennyson and Owen Paper
I have studied two poems ‘The Charge of The Light Brigade’, by Alfred Lord Tennyson, a poet laureate, and ‘Dulce et Decorum est’, which was written by Wilfred Owen, who served as a soldier in world war one. There is a very large difference between the attitude to war in the different poems, ‘The Charge of The Light Brigade’ was secondary evidence because Tennyson read his information for the poem in an article and was inspired, while Owen, on the other hand, is speaking in first hand evidence as he was a soldier in the famous trench wars, on the front line.
Tennyson was inspired by the bravery of the soldiers of the Light Brigade and was intrigued by the article and decided to write a poem to commemorate the sheer glory of the courage. The poem emphorcises the bravery and glory of the men that charged at the Russians during their war. Honour was an important factor in this war, as the time of the war everybody who joined the army only did so, for the glory of the British, to fight for their country was a great achievement for every soldier, although there is a good feel to the poem, it is gloomified by the horrors of battle.
Owens poem is completely different it is about horror and fear of the men who suffered in the trenches of world war one, it starts off with the suffering of ill soldiers “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks”, Owen is talking about the poor health state of the soldiers, the men in the poem where going to rest for a night, “till on the haunting flares we turned our backs”, which symbolises that they hated their horrific experiences and do not want to return.
Alfred Lord Tennyson grew up in a very proud time, where he became a Lord, this contributed to his very, proud to be British style, poem that describes and explains a battle that he didnt fight in. Whereas Wilfred Owen was a commoner until he joined the army where he had live experience of the rotten trenches. The almost snobbery of Tennyson compared to the common touch of Owen was remarkable as their attitudes to a horrific war which many people lost their lives. The commoner Owen wrote his poem as a warning to the unsuspecting future soldiers of world war one and the terrible conditions of the trenches.
Tennyson writes about the glory of the noble soldiers, who were all very high classed gentlemen. In ‘Ducle et Decorum est’ it briefly explains the trench life for the men of the first world war, it also explains the struggle of gas masks as a soldier struggles to fit his mask on, then dies, “But someone still was yelling out and stumbling and floundering like a man in fire or lime”, it explains that this man was dying as onlookers fell helpless. This was as hard an experience for these onlookers as it was for this helpless man, “In all of my dreams, before my helpless sight, he plunges at me, choking and drowning.
In ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ is the light brigade, who are English and are charging at the Russian artillery in classic cavalry style, the poem describes the bravery of the soldiers “When can their glory fade? , O the wild charge they made! ” Tennyson was a poet Laureate and was writing poems because he enjoyed it, whereas Owen wrote his poem to warn unsuspecting soldiers of the danger.
Tennysons main aim of his poem was to glorify the victory of the soldiers and he wants to make the war sound glamerous and used this to great affectiveness, “Honour the charge they made! , this signals that he wants other people to respect the brave attempts of the soldiers. While Owen wants to tell people of his horrific experiences as a world war one soldier in the trenches , Owens intentions were to explain the diabolical conditions in these trenches “Many had lost their boots, but limped on, blood shod. ” I think that it is obvious that he is making the point that the trenches were wet and sodden, and also how unfortunate the soldiers were.
The poems are very different in the way they are formed as ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ begins at a slow pace, whereas the charge of the light brigade starts at a face pace, Tennyson continues the slow pace until he builds up to a faster climax. Owen continues the fast pace throughout the poem “Cannon to the right of them, cannon to the left of them, cannon behind them. ” This is the fast paced ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’. Tennyson uses repetition for emphasis “Their’s not to make reply, theirs not to reason why, theirs not to do and die. ” This does emphasise to the reader the bravery of the men as they didnt question what was asked of them.
However Owen uses similes to describe the mens suffering “Like old beggars” this portrays the exhaustion of the soldiers as they make their way through the trenches. The title of Wilfred Owen’s poem “Dulce et Decorum est” is in contrast with the poem, as the old Latin phrase means ‘it is sweet and fitting to die for there country, whereas the poem actually means, people should not die in such a terrible way. Tennyson again uses repetition “Cannon to the left of them, cannon to the right of them, cannon in front of them”, it emphasises the intensity of the sound.
He also uses metaphors to exagerate the horror that the men were facing “Valley of death”, this is the place where the battle was occuring. Tennyson emphisises the orders given to the soldiers “Charge for the gas” the men followed all the orders that were said beacause they were extremely brave. Owen uses very descriptive words all the way through his poem from start to finsih “Of tired outstripped five-nines that dropped behind”, this is very descriptive as it shows how tired the men were and the many bombs that were being dropped.
The two poems are so different because Owen faught in the war and is talking in first hand evidence but whereas Tennyson used secondary evidence to write his poem. Tennyson’s poem ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ starts slow with a march “Half a league, half a league onward” this means they are marching and prodding along slowly. This is a very slow opening, then Tennyson begins explaining the battle ground and calling it “The Valley of Death”. The line that reads “Rode the six hundred” it is repeated through the poem to show that the soldiers stuck together throughout the battle, and followed there orders.
Owen however gives the reader the image of a very horrific time for the soldiers and starts off showing ,in first hand evidence, the appauling conditions that the men had to suffer, Tennyson starts off slow then builds uo to a climax which is very thunderous “Charge for the Guns, he said; into the valley of death” this is the build up to the climax of the poem, this poem becomes extremely fast paced and furocious “Cannon to the left of them, cannon to the right of them, cannon in front of them. This is the fastest part of the poem and is repeated at a further point in the poem, when they are retreating after there battle, “Cannon to the left of them, cannon to the right of them, cannon behind them” this states that the men are coming away from the battle, while leaving it still at a maximum, but having completed their mission which was to charge for the guns.
The use of writing tecniques throughout the two poems are very different, ‘the Charge of the Light Brigade’ has more metaphors throughout the poem, there is a metaphor which describes the valley and how fierce it was there, “Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of Hell” this sentence is also used in repitition again later in the poem, the sentence describes the valley as hell. Wilfred Owen’s poem though uses more similes. The first sentence of the poem is a simile, “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks” and then theres “Knock-kneed, coughing like hags”, these two similes make this poem start off at tremendous pace.
Then a similie which describes the man that was dying from mustard gas, “And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime”, this describes how much pain and agony the man was going through. Then the last simile in the poem is in the last verse which again describes the man who had died, “His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin” this shows how the dead man looked, Owen compares him to the devil. The two poems both have a different message for the reader, Tennyson’s ‘the Charge of the Light Brigade’ wants people to honour the brave men, “Honour the charge they made! Honour the Light Brigade, Noble six hundred! “.
Wilfred Owen on the other hand leaves a direct message for the oncoming and unsuspecting soldiers, The most important part is the message to the reader in the last verse “If in some smothering dreams you too could pace” Wilfred Owen tells the readers that he has nightmares about that man, “My friend, you would not tell with such high zest” Owen also tells the reader that its hard telling kids these storys, these two quotes tell the reader directly how horrific the sights were and that it has stayed in his memory.