Taylor 1 Dying for a State through Poetry Wilfred Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est uses vivid imagery which removes any romantic ideas that it is sweet and honorable to die for the fatherland. Randall Jarrell’s The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner uses ambiguity to compare death for the state and abortion. Both writings convey the horror of dying for a state. The Death of the Ball turret Gunner begins “from my mother’s sleep, I fell into a state and hunched in its belly until my fur froze. ” This is saying that the gunner was born from his mother’s warmth into a cold state, as he is born in the belly of a high altitude bomber.
The “State” is referred to as cold and less nourishing in Randall Jerrell’s poem. In Dulce et Decorum Est the poem reveals hidden truths of the first world war, and showed the cruelties the soldiers had to face on a day to day basis. Dulce et Decorum est begins “Bent double, like old beggars” (5) All the turmoil’s that young men were put through making them feel and look older than they really were, breaking them down making them lose their spirit they had as young men. What makes this poem unique is the fact that Wilfred Owen was there to witness the horrors of the first world war.
Owen continues “An ecstasy of fumbling fitting helmets. ” As the soldiers ran from the gas bombs their helmets bouncing on their heads, putting them at bigger risk of dying for your country. War is often glorified by others that have not experienced how horrifying war can be and they think that they can be hero’s, because of stories they heard as a child from a mother or a father that makes war seem romantic and patriotic so they should enlist in the romance of being that hero not realizing that the war is truly a horrifying experience.
Owen states at the end of his poem “to children ardent for some desperate glory” (25) Children who think it is sweet and honorable to die for ones country because someone who has no experience has told them stories of romance and patriotism allowing them to believe they will be hero’s in the perfect dream. Taylor 2 Wilfred Owen and Randall Jerrell both tell the gruesome truths of the war and ow it really was to be that unsung hero that watched his friends die and be put into a cart to be hauled off not really knowing if their families and loved ones knew they had passed on, or how it was to be the product of a war and to not live past your first hour because you were born into the freezing belly of a bomber plane and treated like trash when the plane has finally landed and was being cleaned out. How the war today is any different than what both of these authors are trying to say?
There is no difference because in Dulce et Decorum est the very last words “The old lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori. ” “It is sweet and honorable to die for the fatherland. ” The recruitment offices of today still tell their soldiers that they are doing America a favor by fighting for them and that it is an honorable way to live life however it is not said that it is honorable if you die but if you live you have better opportunities in life to go somewhere and be someone.
What happened to those young men who fought in the First World War? Most of them lost their friend because they were told it was honorable to die for their country, then a lot of them came home from the wars crippled and could not participate in the things they did before they enlisted, and then some of them came home in a plain pine box to families that only then saw the horrors of the war.