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The ‘horrors of war’ have been conveyed through the over-glorification of war and emotional distress due to witnessing an innocent individual being victimized to war. Denise Levertov and Wilfred Owen’s poems highlight these points through their highly acclaimed war poetry ‘Weeping Woman’ and ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est.’ Utilizing poetic devices and techniques such as imagery, hyperbole, simile, symbolism, anaphora and personification to convey their message across to the audience.
Denise Levertov, the composer of ‘Weeping Woman’ has conveyed the ‘horror of war’ through highlighting the mutilation of an innocent bystander. Levertov has implemented the poetic techniques anaphora exemplifying the pain and sufferance the women is experiencing. The anaphoric lines which have been repeated throughout the poem creates an insurmountable emotion. “She is weeping for her lost right arm.” This highlights the notion that her arm is irretrievable, impacting her psyche and physical state. The lines “She cannot write the alphabet anymore” and “She cannot hold her baby and caress it at the same time ever again” highlights this hardship and it allows the audience to understand the woman’s position. Furthermore, Levertov has adopted the technique symbolism to emphasize the grotesque mutilation which has occurred. In the transitional stanza it says “The stump aches, and her side.” This is a symbolic representation of the weeping woman. This representation indicates the physical scarring which is associated with a ‘mutilated’ tree stump. Thus, Levertov has implemented a variety of techniques to help foreshadow the notion of mutilation in her war poem, Weeping Woman.
In addition to the application of anaphora and symbolism, Levertov has applied tone to accentuate how war can mentally and physically destroy an individual. A motherly and gentle tone is firstly portrayed by the woman, listing the few activities she cannot perform anymore. This tone created a strong emotional effect. By being portrayed like this, she is placed as a vulnerable victim, susceptible to another attack. The tone builds up a sense of sympathy and empathy towards the woman also, throughout the transitional stanza the tone transitions to a resenting and furious woman. “The left alone cannot use a rifle to help shoot down the attacking planes”, a clear indicator that the woman is defending against the enemy and it highlights the major tone change by the woman. The last and final stanza of the poem, is the criticism of America. “Cruel America, when you mutilate our land and bodies, it is your own soul you destroy, not ours.” The woman had fought, but America shown no remorse for the innocent that had fallen. Through Denise Levertov’s masterful poem, Weeping Woman, tone has conveyed the ‘horror of war’ by allowing the audience to see the mental and physical devastation one can endure.
Owen’s highly acclaimed war poem ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ has captivated the audience to realizing the true ‘horror of war’ through emphasizing that the reality of war is gruesome. His intricate appliance of poetic devices such as imagery and simile assist in conveying the true horror of war. A few examples of imagery would include “Men marched asleep” and “Drunk with fatigue”, these examples cause the audience to imagine the horrible conditions soldiers faced out on the battlefront. The imagery highlights the notion that war is over-glorified and the public’s view on war was deceiving, not realizing the bigger picture. The two examples accentuate the horrifying realities of war, and allows the audience to witness the terrifying content of what a soldier has to face every day.
However, Owen has not only implemented imagery, he has also utilized simile to further emphasize the realities of war. “Bent double like old beggars under sacks” and “knock-kneed, coughing like hags” Owen cleverly manipulates the poetic technique simile to highlight the physical repercussions of war on a soldier. Wilfred Owen the composer of Dulce Et Decorum Est. has utilized the techniques simile and imagery, so that the audience can recognize how war can deteriorate a soldier’s physical prowess, thus justifying his incorporation of both literary techniques.
Owen has used both hyperbole and personification to further explain the true horror of war, these techniques are implying that war has an everlasting effect on soldiers due to the reoccurring images of death. ‘Of disappointed shells that dropped behind’ is an example of personification in the poem. The personified shells highlight the weapons that enemies used to mercilessly kill each other with. Weapons cause havoc and destruction, people get caught in the cross-fire and die. The way Owen has represented these ‘shells’ shows that weapons are a horrifying attribute to war. Hyperbolic connotations have been seen throughout the poem, lines such as “But limped on blood-shot” and “All went lame; all blind” presents the emphasized exhaustion of the soldiers. These connotations help highlight the extremities of a soldiers situation in terms of their physical and mental health. Hyperbole and its importance creates emphasis on the sheer exhaustion from war, as seen in Owen’s poem, Dulce Et Decorum Est.
Both poets, Denise Levertov and Wilfred Owen have successfully shown the true ‘horror of war’ by utilizing the various poetic techniques to convey their message across to the audience through their poems ‘Weeping Woman’ and ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’. The over-glorified and the mental and physical pain contributed to the ‘horror of war’. From the physical scarring to the emphasized tiring caused by war, it all led up to the true realization that war is definitely over-glorified and causes immense pain towards those witnessing the mass destruction of lives.