Comparing Two War Poems By Wilfred Owen and Maurice Hewlett Paper
During the first and second world war many young men were forced into the army and the services many leaving their young families or mother’s and sisters. This was a very difficult time for both the men who were leaving to fight and risk their lives and for the women and children they left behind. One of the poems I have picked is in the eyes of a mother and child it is called “For Two Voices” and is written by Hewlett. The mother speaks the true brutality of war and the child sees the glorious and heroic side of war.
My second choice was “Dulce Et Decorum Est” by Owen. This is a evastating poem written by a man who first wet to war with a heroic vision in his head, just like the one of the child in the other poem by Hewlett, and then after spending a few weeks at war started to write poems of disaster and destruction. For Two voices uses much simpler language than Dulce Et Decorum Est. It is told by a child and a mother. It is like they are looking out of a window at the young soldiers marching off to war. It is a very clever structure for the poem.
It is set out in speech marks first the child stating a glorious army marching by from an innocent ind and then the mother answering with a much duller, realistic point. This is very true to real life as most young children see what they want to see and can not understand the real truth. The mother however sounds like she is speaking from experience perhaps she has lost one of her loved ones in a previous war or someone close to her has already experience a death in their family. The poem works very well and although it uses simple language and only has one simile it has a very clever.
The layout incorporates both opinions without actually sating who is saying what. The child looks at all the bright xciting things like he sees the general riding on his horse and views him as a brave man who he looks up to and the mother answers by saying “I hear the sound of a child crying”. Here the writer could of replaced child with Wife or Mother but he use child because it wins people’s sympathy because people view children as vulnerable and innocent, making it sound more devastating.
Children are often attracted to bright shiny things especially young infants and the boy in the poem when he says “look at the bright spears” he does not see them as a weapon for killing innocent people but as a symbol of the oldiers pride and courage. The mother even thinks it as disrespectful that they are seeing the soldiers off and not in church praying for their loved ones lives, she seems to know the true consequences of war. The mother uses the only simile used in the whole poem: The leaves are falling like women’s tears Because this is the only simile it makes more of an impact on the reader.
Similes are good because they help the reader to understand the true feelings and emotions that the author is trying to put across. The views are so different that the mother even says to the child You are not looking at what I see Emphasising the whole point in the poem. The child’s opinion shows the result of propaganda and artificial views on war. The last lines of the poem sums up the mother’s realistic view on war. The phrase “Sin and shame” is repeated three times bringing the poem to an end making the point stick in the reader’s head.
At the beginning of the poem it is not clear what the author wants the reader to think but by the end you know that the author has a cruel view of war and definitely shares the opinion of the mother. Dulce Et Decorum Est is written by Wilfred Owen and is a great contrast to For Two Voices. Owen fort in the First World War and his poems are all from his own experience. This makes them all the more realistic and devastating. Owen writes in more detail than Hewlett, using very vivid descriptions. Owens poems tell the truth about war some of them were letters home to his mother and loved ones.
Dulce Et Decorum Est means, “It is Sweet and Right to Die For Your Country”. This being the title of the poem before reading the actual poem the may think it was a tale of patriotism and a very heroic tale the true poem is quite different. It is in fact the complete opposite. Before going to war Owen was lead to believe that war was glamorous and right, after experiencing it he wrote this poem showing people what life was really like in the trenches.
In the lat verse Owen addresses the reader directly using “You” and in the lat few lines “my friend… this is very effective and makes the reader feel almost guilty. He then address’ the title of the poem as “… An old lie”. By doing this he finishes and starts the poem almost sarcastically and then very cleverly puts his strong views of war across. The language in the poem is much more complex than that in For Two Voices and use many similes especially in the first verse. This is a good way to start a poem as it brings the reader to the right level of mind and helps them to realty to the meaning of the poem. The first one Owen uses is: Bent double, like old beggars under sacks.
Beggars are the opposite to the title of the poem describing heroic soldiers therefore this changes the whole view of the poem just in the first line. Beggars are very frowned upon and are nearly always stereotyped as old men, so the phrase “bent double… ” is very fitting. He then goes on to describe the people around him. Men marched asleep… During the war men were expected for miles and the fact that the asleep but still moving says its almost like there bodies were not functioning and they were so used to it that they could march and almost be asleep without falling over.
The poor conditions described are all very harrowing. Many had lost their boots… but limped on blood shod. Owen then goes on to use the phrase “Drunk with fatigue”. This is an excellent choice of words. He could have just said they were tired but instead he describes them as drunk. When someone is drunk they become elirious and not really conscious of the things their body is doing and therefore unaware of their surroundings. This brings the verse to a gradual natural ending. The next paragraph starts very abruptly with the phrase “Gas, GAS!
Quick, boys! ” This is a climax to the whole poem, showing the terrible result of war. The word gas in capitals and is on the first line to a verse, making it stand out from the rest of the poem letting the reader know how important it is and possibly showing that it has terrible consequences. He says that they fit the helmets just in time and then starting a new line say “except… at this pin the readers heart almost sinks knowing that this is fatal. It vividly describes the person drowning in the poisonous gas.
This is a horrible thing to happen to anyone and it makes the reader consider war in a different light and also pity the poor man who was killed and many other who died for the country in war and also those who watched their fellow soldiers die. Hence bringing out the title because the man who was killed by the gas died fighting for his country. The last verse is designed to put across the strong meaning of the poem showing what war was really like. It addresses the reader aking them feel guilty and sympathetic for all the victims f war.
It describes Owens feelings watching the soldier be taken away in a wagon that they “flung ” him in. Using flung in this sentence makes it sound like Owen was disgusted at what happened to the men after they had died and had been finished with they were not even properly buried. It describes in gruesome detail the body in the back of the cart making Owens views on war obvious and showing the devastating results. He then concludes the poem by warning the reader that war is not a glorious heroic game but one of pain and suffering and then says the itle to be a lie and finishes with the same words as he started with.
Looking at the two poems I can see two very different views on war. Although there are three peoples point to be taken in. The child has been sucked into the world of propaganda. The mother has not experienced war her self but knows the true brutality and her opinion is backed up by Owens real life account of life in the trenches. I can understand why the child was attracted to propaganda and patriotic side of war this is understanding as most children see and believe what they want to be true often over looking the truth.