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”The Destruction of Sennacherib”, ”The Charge of the Light Brigade” and ”Dulce Et Decorum Est”

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  • Pages: 11
  • Word count: 2507
  • Category: Poems

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The three poems discuss aspects of war however each shows a different portrayals of war as the poets are writing in different time periods. Lord Byron structured his poem using secondary evidence which was from the bible; he made war out to e romantic idyllic and wonderful. He also celebrates the power and strength of God. However Wilfred Owen’s outlook on war came from his experiences, he told it at the worst case scenario and sent out messages in his poems. Tennyson based his poem on a newspaper article about the Crimean War; it is a Pre 1914 poem like Lord Byron’s.

Lord Byron wrote The Destruction of Sennacherib. His sources are secondary as they came from the bible (2nd book of Chronicles Chapter 32). The poem is based on the power of God. King Sennacherib of Assyria believed he could destroy Judea and King Hezekiah. Sennacherib told Jerusalem (a city in Judea) that there faithfulness to one God would not save them. In their hour of need they prayed to their God, and he sent an angle that killed Sennacherib and his army.

The first verse describes Sennacherib’s army with a powerful simile ‘like wolf on the fold’ this defines the army as the ‘wolf’: strong and dominant, choosing parts of the ‘fold’ (sheep) which symbolise the cities in Judea picking them off one by one. He also uses the colours ‘purple and gold’ in his description of the army, these are bold confident strong colours symbolising victory. There is also the use so alliteration ‘and the sheen of there spears was like stars on the sea’ these emphasise the strength of the army as you tend to say these words stronger.

The second verse begins with the army still strong and dominant. ‘Summer is green’ is a happy metaphor showing the emotions of the army that they re confident that they can defeat Jerusalem. However ‘autumn hath blown’ is another metaphor in the second half of the verse which contrasts as this is a dull and gloomy metaphor just like the season it also symbolises no hope as the seasons next change for the worst into winter, ‘ withered and strewn’ also el0aborates on the idea of failure. Repetition features in this verse twice ‘like the leaves of the forest when’ and ‘that host’ these build up pace and increase emphasis.

Verse three, four, five and six are all structured like a list. This is created by the repartition of ‘and’ which signifies another thing to come to show the extent of the destruction to the army. This technique builds up pace however I think it has been over used.

The last line of the poem starts with a simile ‘hath melted like snow’ this is referring to Sennacherib’s army ‘ in the glance of the lord’ shows his power and that no man should think he is better than God, this being the last line leaves the message in your mind to remember.

Lord Byron’s view off war is that good always combats bad. He celebrates the power of god however as he got his information from the bible he maybe biased towards god’s strength.

Wilfred Owens wrote his poem ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ during the First World War. He told of the horrors he saw and tried to put his sightings across in his poems to show war was not glorious. He put his point across by being ironic and sarcastic the title starts this as it translates to ‘It is sweet and honourable to die for your country’ his messages are often subtle and cryptic. In other poems of the time the poets portray war as fun, patriotic and wonderful; this is a type of propaganda as they are making it sound a lot better than it is to entice more people to join. Jesse Pope is a great example of this her poem called ‘Who for the game’ suggest war is as a game; fun and playful, when the reality is it most certainly is not and is very dangerous.

In verse one of ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ Wilfred Owen uses imagery to show the dreadful condition the soldiers were in, the first line says they are like ‘Bent Double, like old beggars under sacks’ it is a strong phrase as these men are supposed to be fit and healthy young men. He also uses emotive language to really capture the reader’s passion, ‘cursed’ has two meanings in this poem firstly that the solider save swearing as they go through the mud and secondly they are cursed for being there. On top of that he uses direct address using ‘we’ this involves the reader in what is happening. His language in this poem is very specific he knows what words to use for the most impact i.e. ‘drunk with fatigue’ he could have used something much simpler ‘very tired’ but this would not have put the point or impact across that he is wants. This verses rhythm is slow because of the excessive punctuation he uses. It is a good technique as it makes you read slower and take in what he has written.

Verse two and three describes a gas attack. He uses vivid images to shock the reader +++ .the choice of punctuation that he uses is different ‘gas! GAS!’ he uses exclamation marks to show panic and the capital letters emphasizes this further. As there is not as much punctuation in these verses the pace is quicker this symbolises the panic and fear of the soldiers. There is a change in argument half way through this verse ‘but’, it started with a group of soldiers but has now zoomed into just one or two to show a true portrayal of the horrible death he went through. Wilfred Owen illustrates the gas as a ‘green sea’ and the man that is dying is described as ‘drowning’ this gives a clear disturbing image in few words. In these verses he also uses direct address with ‘I’ and ‘my’ this involves the reader and puts s/he in poem. Verse three is a short powerful verse of two lines. However it is packed with emotive language and does shock the reader ‘helpless, plunges’ and for that extra emphasis a list of how the man is dying finishes the verse ‘guttering, choking, drowning’ these all build an image just like the one Wilfred Owen must have seen.

Verse four is the longest as he is trying to put the final part of his plea across. He uses direct address again ‘you’ to plea to the reader. Moreover alliteration is used ‘watch the whit eyes writhing’ to high light the suffering of the dying man and the realities of war. He then goes on to talk about the age of many soldiers ‘innocent tongues’ which shows the younger soldiers don’t know what war is like, and to finish the point of young soldiers he uses ‘children’ to show some are only just in their teens. There is a subtle message in this verse to Jesse Pope and all the other poets who say war is fun and wonderful; by using ‘My friend’ everyone knows who he is sending this message to but he does in indirectly and slightly sarcastic. The last two lines of the poem sum the hole thing up and leave his message in your mind ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori’ which translates to ‘it is sweet and honourable to die for your country is a lie’ so although he starts sarcastically he makes sure the reader does fully understand the point of the poem.

Wilfred Owens view of war is that it is not glorious or wonderful and he is sick of the young ‘children’ dying because they don’t know what it is like because of other poets over stating it. His poems are clever as he uses sarcasm to put his point across to the reader. He portrays war at the worst state as this shocks.

The final poem that I am discussing is ‘The charge of the light brigade’ by Alfred Tennyson.

The poem is about the Crimean war where the English and French feared the Russians strength. This charge was the best known example of the heroism and stupidity of war. Alfred Tennyson got his information from a newspaper article so they are secondary just like Lord Byron’s their attitudes are similar too.

The first verse uses a lot of repetition to make and highlight points ‘Half a league’ is repeated three times. To emphasise that they were riding into a death trap the metaphor ‘valley of death’ is also repeated however there is space between the repetitions to create more of an impact just like ‘rode the six hundred’ which is repeated at the end of each verse. The use of speech marks shows the Alfred wants to high light a certain some one but he doesn’t want everyone to know who or maybe he doesn’t know himself the only referral we get is ‘he said’.

Verse two shows the start of the charge the first line ‘forward the Light Brigade’ mirrors that of a line in the first verse. It shows the build up and the adrenaline witch is there, this also reflects into the second line ‘was there a man dismayed?’ This question shows the bravery of the soldiers as none of them questioned there duty and it involves the reader. Then a change in the argument turns the reader’s attention from the bravery of the soldiers to the stupidity of ‘some one’ who ‘had blundered’ this is a very strong line as it makes the reader want to tell the soldiers. Repetition comes again ‘theirs’ this is to outline that the soldiers bravery once again.

Verse three now describes the valley and we start to build up a picture in our minds with the use of more repetition, ‘cannon’ which shows they are all around firing at the soldiers. Onomatopoeia is used to describe the sounds of the cannons ‘Thundered’. Alliteration follows with more onomatopoeia ‘stormed at with shot and shell’ this builds up the rhythm of the poem. Emotive language follows through the poem from this point on ‘Boldly, hell, death’ these all really touch the reader.

Verse four explains the soldiers charge. Repletion begins the verse ‘flashed’ it signals different things happening quickly. Then the argument changes ‘while All the world wondered’ for only a line then we go back the valley where the soldiers are now breaking through the front line, this all happens quickly and breaks the poem up. Alliteration builds up the pace ‘sabre-stroke shattered and sundered’ then the poem completely slows down from this build up with the use of a comma to make sure the words are acknowledged. The last line also changes from ‘rode the six hundred’ to ‘not the six hundred’ this signals that the soldiers are in trouble and dying.

Verse five begins the same as verse three to show who strong they thought they were but then poems tells the horror of the death. Alliteration forms the rhythm of this verse ‘shot and shell’ ‘horse and hero’, these show what happened and what is happening. Then there is more repetition from verse three but the opposite verse three says ‘into the mouth of hell’ while verse five states ‘back from the mouth of death’ it shows they have retreated. The last line changes again ‘left of six hundred’ this shows the extent of the destruction to the ‘six hundred’.

Verse six is the shortest verse with the biggest message. It starts with a question to draw in the reader again. The use of the punctuation in this verse slows the pace down completely and makes you take in every line. Line three is mirrored from verse four ‘all the world wondered’ this changes the argument to not just the reader but everyone on this planet. Finally the word ‘honour’ to really make the point of there bravery, this is emphasized with the last line ‘noble six hundred!’

Alfred Tennyson’s view of war is that those who participate should be honoured and treated like hero’s he shows the bad side of war that mistakes do happen but he also shows the glory that soldiers will receive.

‘The Destruction of Sennacherib’ poem has six verses just like the charge of ‘The Charge of Light Brigade’ but ‘Dolce Et Decorum Est’ only has 3. The rhyming schemes are different though the ‘Destruction of Sennacherib’ has rhyming couplets ‘aabb’ ‘fold …gold’ this keeps a good steady pace/rhyme to the poem however ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ does have rhyming couplets but they are not regular there is also random rhyming i.e. ‘aaba’ this makes the flow of the poem different in each verse some have a faster pace ‘ bare…air…there’ and some a slower when there is no rhyme ‘them…thundered’. ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est.’ rhyming scheme is very simple ‘abab’ although this helps the poem flow the length of each line differs so it doesn’t speak as easily as it could, this poem is harder to read because the punctuation in it gives certain parts of the poem emphasis-‘gas! GAS!’ the exclamation marks make you stop after each word, this slows the pace.

Each poem discusses the different aspects of war. They only show certain parts of huge events. All the poems show the extremes war; good; ‘the charge of the light brigade’ and ‘the Destruction of Sennacherib’ bad; ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est.’. The poems all show different emotions ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est.’ shows anger and concern this comes across with the over use of punctuation. ‘The Destruction of Sennacherib’ shows the emotions of love, trust and amazement these come across in the choice of vocabulary, colours and the rhythm. ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ shows us the honour and bravery of soldier at war these come from the choice of techniques used i.e. alliteration and onomatopoeia.

All the poems showed me different emotions mainly that of sorrow as men died doing what they thought was right ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est.’ truly shocked me the most it caught my attention as a well structured and meaningful poem it showed the horrors of war and put its point across very effectively. ‘The Destruction of Sennacherib’ made me feel quiet happy it flowed along easily however I forgot it quite quickly and I didn’t really understand how it portrayed war as the poem celebrates the power of god. Finally ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ this was my favourite it kept me interested with the use of all different techniques and the changing of argument. It made me form my own conclusion that it was honourable to be a soldier. It helped me see the bravery of these men and the patriotic side of there views (dying for their country).

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