Rupert Brooke’s “The Soldier” was written with the purpose of convincing young men to join the army or “Fall In” He shows the glorious side of war and how it is honourable. Wilfred Owens “Dulce et Decorum Est” was written with the purpose of showing a realistic view of war and how many young men suffered and died over a petty misunderstanding over two powerful nations. The reasons behind the publishing of these poems were because Brooke possessed an idealistic view of war and believed it was a duty for all young men to “Fall in” and become a soldier.
Whereas Owen possessed a realistic view of war and believed it was horrific that men were dying for such futile reasons. Wilfred Owens anti-war protest “Dulce est Decorum est” was written whilst Owen was receiving shell shock treatment in Craiglockhart. It is an offensive response to Owens initial experience of war and an attack on propagandists who have disoriented young men to “Fall In”.
The poem could be broken down into three parts: a description of solders’ withdrawing from the frontline, a mustard gas attack, and a confrontation of those who share an idealistic view of war and glorify it.
The first stanza is composed of a series of descriptions of soldiers that have been tormented mentally and physically. Owen puts the impression that they have aged and have been reduced to beggars. “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks” “coughing like hags”. He describes the terrible conditions and the failure to deliver supplies to troops.
Consequently men had “lost their boots” “limped on, blood shod” This was a major blunder that nearly cost Britain the war. The overall image of this scene is one of defeat and disappointment.
The reader is then jolted into a sense of urgency and cautiousness. The immediacy of the gas attack is represented through repeated shouted exclamations. “Gas! Gas! Quick boys! ” “An ecstasy of fumbling” “Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time” He also describes how powerless he is and how he witnesses a soldiers death and is helpless. “But someone still was yelling out and stumbling” “before my helpless sight”. The soldier goes through horrific stages that leads to his death.
He uses a metaphor of the sea and drowning to recreate how gruesome it was. “as under a green sea” “He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning. ” “Behind the wagon we flung him in, And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, his hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin”. The alliteration in “And watch the white eyes writhing in his face” recreates the hideous distortion on that man’s face. This powerful imagery allows people to discover the horrific truth of modern warfare.
The final section of the poem directly addresses the reader “My friend” for full effect of the poems last words. The rough translation of “Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori” is “It is glorious and honourable to die for one’s country” He highlights this as an “old Lie”. Rupert Brooke’s “The soldier” is way too patriotic to be taken seriously in the modern day. It is pure propaganda persuading young innocent men to kill themselves for the sake of Britain. Rupert Brooke has a secret arrogance in his portrayal of Englishmen.
He connotes they are some sort of superior race of men. “in this rich earth a richer dust concealed” Moreover he uses the phrase “foreign field”. This to me seems bizarre as he is away from his homeland so is he not the foreigner. This implies Britain has some kind of ownership over other nations. He believes when he dies he is winning land for England. “That there’s some corner of a foreign field. That is forever England”. Let us not neglect the truth about this war; it was simply for land, greed, dominance and money.
It seemed Rupert Brooke thought this was a noble cause to die for. He also implies God will forgive them for murder, he believes England will not be held accountable for their death count. “Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home” “And think, this heart, all evil shed away” “The last words suggest England is heaven or even England owns heaven. I believe “Dulce et decorum est” was more effective as it spoke the truth and gave a realistic view of war which is what people need to make their own decision and not an influenced one.