To show how attitudes to the war changed as the Great War progressed I have chosen four poems. “The soldier” by Rupert Brooke, “In Flanders Field” by John McCare and ” Disabled” and “Dulce Et Decorum Est.” both by Wilfred Owen.
Both John McCare and Rupert Brookes poems were written early on in the war, however Rupert Brooke has glorified war unlike John McCare who saw war as a job that needed to be done. Wilfred Owen’s poems were written later on in the war and both talk about the reality of war. He mentions gas attacks, death and horrific injuries.
When comparing the poet’s attitude to war, Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce Et Decorum Est” has a totally different perspective to that of Rupert Brooke’s poem, “The soldier.” “Dulce Et Decorum Est” tell us what it really was like for the soldiers,
“Men marched asleep. Many have lost their boots
But limped on, blood shod.”
Compare that abstract with one from The Soldier,
“Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day”
It clearly highlights that Owen had a clear view on what war was about; perhaps this is because he had experience of life as a soldier and that his attitude was one of bitterness. If you compare this with another of his poems “Disabled” he still captured the awfulness of war ruining young men’s lives, but the language he uses appears less bitter possibly because it is about one young soldier. The Poem “Disabled” talks about how horrific injuries due to the war affected the soldiers in many ways. “In Flanders Field” John McCare also writes with some truth,
“We are the dead,”
he writes indicating it is possible for you to die in war, but he also uses recruiting language.
“To you from failing hands we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high.”
This shows that John McCare attitude is neither bitter nor triumphant it is balanced.
As mentioned before, both of Owens’s poems tell the reality of war. The ” Dulce Et Decorum Est” is about the soldier making their way back after fighting, when a gas attack occurred leaving one man for dead. His other poem “Disabled” is about a young man’s life before and after war. It talked about how people treated him before the war and mentioned all the things he couldn’t do after because he was disabled. “In Flanders Field,” soldiers who have fought and died are asking men to join and to carry on their deed to finish and win the war. Although “The Soldier” is a recruiting poem it has been written as if a soldier was saying that even if he dies he would make “the soil richer” because he was English, and that the same would happen to the other men if they joined, they would become “pure” as well.
When looking at the language used I noticed that in “Dulce Et Decorum Est” it had harsh and powerful language. Words such as “forth corrupted lungs” and “obscene as cancer”, they illustrate that his attitude was not only one of bitterness but also one of frustration. This language also demonstrates that war can affect people in such awful ways.
“Disabled” has both enthusiastic and bitter language. Before this young lad joined the war Owen uses to words to show happy the town was,
“Swinging so gay” …..
“glow- lamps budded in the light blue trees”
but after he came back from the war Owen described the terrible conditions he was in and how he will spend his last few years. The words are cold and bitter.
” Few sick years in institutes….
A leap of purple spurted from his thighs.”
“In Flanders Field” the poet used different tenses to give his message across. The first stanza is in the present tense, with language that makes the reader fell calm, he used nature for example,
“poppies blowing in fields” ….
” larks singing in the sky”
but in the last line he brings the reader back to the reality of war by saying,
” scarce heard amid the guns below.”
In the second stanza John McCare used third person (past tense)
” we are the dead”, ” we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,”
However in the third stanza John McCare reverted back into the present tense and uses the language of recruitment. The soldiers want other men to take on their deed or else they have died in vain.
” Take up our quarrel with the foe:”..
” If ye break faith with us who die
we shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Field”
“The soldier uses gentle words for example;
“flowers to love” or “in hearts at peace ”
unlike “Dulce Et Decorum Est” which used harsh and breathtaking words. The language is used to make you sound like a hero if you went and fight and also that there wasn’t any horrific injuries or gas attacks, that war was Romantic. All poets used tone, metaphor and simile and personification in different ways to convey their attitudes and ideas. In “Dulce Et Decorum Est” the first two lines in the first stanza both used a simile, for example ” like old beggars” similarly in ” Disabled” it was in the second stanza the simile “likes some queer disease.” As I read the other two poems not one had a simile but “The solider” personified England by referring to her as she; as female to be looked after. “In Flanders Field” a metaphor
“we throw the torch”
Was used to demonstrate that war was like a challenge.
If you were to read out Owens” Dulce Et Decorum Est” you would use an angry tone, however in ” Disabled” you would you a peaceful and reflective tone. For the other two poems you would use a soft and persuasive tone because they are sad and reflective.
The structures of the poems were nearly the same (except “In Flanders Field”) the others used iambic pentameter and all of the poems used a predicable rhyme scheme. ” The soldier” was written in a sonnet form and it gave the poem a Romantic touch.
To conclude, I feel that as the war went on the poems got better because they gave a good sense of what war was about because of the imagery used. I didn’t particually like the other poems by John McCare and Rupet Brookes because I feel; that war is horrible and that these poems seem to make war sound good and wonderful and they encourage people to go, I do feel sorry for these soldiers, they had to fight in these terrible conditions, it made me wonder, why do we have wars? Perhaps that is what Wilfred Owen wanted his readers to do?