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Compare two Wilfred Owen Poems, discussing his treatment of war and its effects

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  • Pages: 5
  • Word count: 1034
  • Category: Poems

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Spring Offensive is about a group of soldiers that are getting ready to go over the top and in to no-mans land. They are all getting ready to die, they know that when the come out over the ridges they will be open to attack from the Germans. In the first stanza Owen describes what the men are doing and that they are getting ready mentally and physically. In the second stanza the men contemplate their deaths because they are more than likely to die when they go over the top. ‘Knowing their feet had come to the end of the world.

This is Owen describing what the men feel about being there, they know that their world is going to end and they will be dead shortly. It is spring and they have just been though a very hard winter, where several men would have been lost to the cold of the winter. Owen now describes the spring as being warm and gentle; they are taking their last look at the summer. The summer that oozes in to their veins is descriptive of how they feel, ‘Like an injected drug for their bodies’ pains. ‘ Owen uses a simile to describe the summer helping the men though their tough time.

This shows the futility of war because they know as soon as they go over they will die. In the third stanza there simile are more of the summer helping then, the buttercups are blessing the men and covering them with pollen for good luck. The brambles are described as grabbing at the men’s boots trying to stop them from going any further ‘… clung to them like sorrowing arms. ‘ Personification is used very effectively by Owen to show that even nature does not want them to carry on fighting.

The next stanza shows a change in mood, from blissful summer to the horrible, dark reality of the order to go over the top. When the order come then everyone’s soul’s craw in to action and get ready for the big push. There are no alarms, no warnings and no flares. They are dreading the moment that they will have to go. Then they must finally go in to battle. The pace changes and becomes much faster, they are over the top of the dreaded hill and faced with open land. Owen uses the single word ‘Exposed.

To describe the fact that they are completely open to the German guns. Then suddenly it breaks in to action, ‘the whole sky burned’ the sky burned with the fire of the guns, and many people died, their blood is described as being collected in the shell holes then they die. ‘Chasmed and deepened in to infinite space’ they fall in to hell. Those that were left alive were brave and tried to shield themselves from the bullets but got hit. ‘On the host blast and fury of hell’s upsurge’ these are the shells that explode beneath them and literally blow then upwards.

This shows the horror that the men must have experienced when they were fighting in the trenches and the Somme. When the soldiers die they get dragged down in to down in to hell or some might be caught before they fell and helped in to heaven. This last stanza shows a big comparison between war and hell. He has survived and gets back to the trenches, but the he is guilty for leaving his friends and comrades behind. The ones that survive are described as having ‘superhuman inhumanities’ because the managed to get though the horrible attack against them.

In this poem Owen expresses his extreme dislike for what is happening to all the young men that gone to fight in the Great War. Dulce et Decorum est is set in a very different place but the horrors of war still loom on the soldiers of the First World War, they are returning from a long hard fight at the front line. The first stanza starts very slowly, the men are staggering back from the trenches. The mud is so thick that they stumble though the sludge. Then men are so tired that they are marching half asleep, like they are sleepwalking.

They are ‘Drunk with fatigue’ they are so tired and weary that they can’t walk straight, they don’t even hear the shells that drop behind them. There is a sudden change of pace ‘Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling’ they all try to put their gas masks on before the deadly chlorine gas can reach them. All but one of them make it, he drowns in the gas because it corrupts his lung and burns them. ‘As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. ‘ He appears to be drowning in a sea because of the green gas and though the glass plate that Owen was wearing as part of his gas mask.

The man would be choking on his own blood and he would not be able to breath, he would die a terrible death. Owen recalls this happening again and again in dreams that he has about the event. They put him in a wagon while he was still alive and brought him back. He eyes were writhing in pain because he was dieing and suffocating. ‘Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud’ he is graphically and effectively describing what is happening to the young boy and what he is feeling watching him die.

Jessie Pope is referred to in this poem as ‘You’ He refers to Jessie Pope when he says My friend, you would not tell with such high zest To children ardent for some desperate glory, The old lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori. ‘ The ‘you’ is Jessie Pope; he shows great dislike towards her and what she tells young men to do. Both these poems show the futility and horror of war, one in an attack at the front line the other far from the front line but still just a terrifying. Metaphors, similes and personification are used to great effect in this poem, they help to show what he and the other men were feeling at the time, and how he feels about war.

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