Poems by Wilfred Owen and Rupert Brooke

The scale of World War one was enormous resulting in 8556315 deaths across the whole world. It was the largest war in history. The conditions in the trenches was horrific, as all men had lice, were vulnerable to frequent gas attacks and could easily catch diseases such as, trench foot and gangrene. Rats infested the trenches, the men where covered in mud and they didn’t have time to regularly wash. The men smoked to relax at night. It’s not surprising that the life expectancy of a soldier in the trenches was

Wilfred Owen was born on the 18th March 1893 in Owestry, Shropshire. He was educated at the Birkenhead institute and at Shrewsbury Technical School. Owens jobs consist of a lay assistant to the vicar of Dunsden and a pupil teacher. Prior to the outbreak of World War one he worked as a private tutor teaching English. In October 1915 he enlisted in the artists rifles where he trained for seven months. In January 1917 he was commissioned as a second lieutenant with the Manchester regiment. Owen began the war as a optimistic and cheerful man, but soon changed after many traumatic experiences. Owen was diagnosed with shellshock, it was when recovering in Craiglockhart hospital, Owen met Siegfried Sassoon. During a period in Scotland Owen wrote many of his poems. Owen died on November 4th 1918 at the age of twenty-five.

In contrast Rupert Brooke, another famous War poet. He was best known for his idealistic, patriotic poetry during World War one, however Brooke never did experience first hand combat. Brooke was born in Rugby on the 3rd August 1887. Brooke was educated at Rugby School, Kings College and university of Cambridge. In 1913 Brooke suffered an emotional breakdown, believed to be because of jealousy and sexual confusion. Brooke was commissioned in the royal navy volunteer division as a sub lieutenant. Brooke developed sepsis from a mosquito bite, whilst travelling with the British Mediterranean Expeditionary force. He died on April 23rd 1915 off the island of Lemnos.

“Dulce et Decorum Est” is a poem by Wilfred Owen, which is said to be his most famous. The poem explains many ideas of war. The poem is about a small group of soldiers limping back from the front line. They’re in a bad condition from the fighting they have endured and are in need of some respite. As they return they are attacked by a gas attack. The soldiers struggle in the chaos but successfully put on the gas marks. However in the struggle on man fails and is left behind. The poem tells how Owen becomes haunted by the image of the painful death of the man. The thought never left his mind. The poem gives the reader a full insight into the horror of the war.

Another one of Wilfred Owens poems is “Disabled.” It shows the neglection of soldiers who have come back from war. The poem tells a story of a young man who was good looking and loved the glory on a football pitch. He decided to sign up for the war. His reasons? He got told he would look a God in uniform, to impress his girlfriend and he loved the idea of glory. However, in the war he lost his limbs. On his return to the country he did not get his hero welcome, but instead he was neglected. Even the nurses looking after him avoided him.

On the other hand “The soldier,” one of Rupert Brooke’s most famous poems, tries to depict the glory of the war. In contrast to Owens more realistic views of war, Brooke’s is far more, noble and glorified. His attitude was to reassure the British and hide them form the actual truth.

The poem “Dulce et Decorum est,” uses similes such as “bent double like beggars under sacks” this brings the image of the soldiers looking like beggars and almost being crippled under the weight of their bags. Owen uses alliteration throughout the poem, “knock – kneed.” The use of alliteration describes effectively and quickly the conditions of the soldiers, letting the reader create the image in their mind. The line “haunting flares,” is one of many powerful descriptions Owen uses. It describes the picture of shells exploding behind the men but having an almost ghostly effect on them.

Into the poem Owen uses effective punctuation such as “Gas! Gas! Quick boys!” This line quickly increases the tempo of the poem and the seriousness. The use of one syllable words with an exclamation mark also makes you experience the adrenaline rush the soldiers would of experienced. AS the tempo of the poem is increased so too is the urgency, this can been seen with words used such as, “floundering,” “drowning,” “fumbling,” and “stumbling.” Because the words are ending in “ing” it adds to the sense of urgency and speeds up the poem.

Owen likes to involve the reader into his poems, he does this by the use of word “you.” As Owens views are against patriotism and the glory of battle he involves the reader to show just how bad and horrific the war was, and to experience the pain and death surrounding you like a shell.

“Disabled” by Wilfred Owen also involves the reader and attaches the reader emotionally to the soldier. The first stanza begins with, “he sat in a wheel chair waiting for dark, and shivered in his ghastly suit o f grey.” This quotation shows a soldier who is disabled but also by the phrase, “waiting for dark” shows the loneliness of the man and can be seen as he is being forced to stay in his lonely state. The poem fluctuates between present and past and it is clearly seen in the poem the man’s present life is dull and depressing, this can be seen with the line “voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn, voices of play and pleasure after day.” The voices remind him of his lost youth and how the world carries on oblivious to his condition.

In the second stanza, Owen goes into the man’s past and expresses the liveliness of his old life. The line “now he will never feel again how slim girls’ waists are,” shows he has lost the ability to be a normal man and is tormented by girls’ affection. This can be seen clearer in the line ” touch him like some queer disease,” this shows the feeling of rejection and torment and how they are now repulsed by him.

In the first stanza it is stated he has lost his legs, “Legless” but the phrase “before he threw away his knees, “shows he is held responsible for the loss of his legs and almost mocks him for his carelessness. Before he signed up for the war he felt proud to sustain an injury while playing football, “one time he liked a blood-smear down his leg.” He loved the glory on a football pitch and celebrated like a hero for a small wound. After one of the football matches the man got drunk, “drunk as a peg” and decided to sign up for the war. The man’s reasons for signing up for the war were, “someone said he’d look a God in kilts.” The use of the word “someone” shows that the man was easily persuaded to join the army and by someone of no importance to him. Also he signed up to show his masculinity to impress the ladies and his girlfriend.

However his career in the army was short lived and he was “drafted out.” “Some cheered him home,” this line shows the man did not get all the praise and glory he signed up for especially after sacrificing his life, and ironically the cheers was bigger for him on a football pitch. This shows Owens strong thoughts against glory and patriotism that a man who sacrificed his life is not shown the praise he deserves and the lack of care for the man after the war. The poem ends with a question to the readers, “why don’t they come?” This question shows the man is desperate for care and need of attention, and is shouting out for the help of the nurses, however it could be seen as the man is waiting for something maybe his death to end his suffering.

Rupert Brooke’s “The Soldier” has a completely different view to Wilfred Owens poems. Although both poets deal with the issue of war, Brooke’s poems are different from Owens because Brooke believes it is brave, fitting and courageous to die for your country.

The poem starts with an arrogant statement “If I should die only think this of me.” This statement seems to be directed to someone close to him. It is also written in the conditional tense as if he believes he will not die. In the next line Brooke’s use of alliteration is shown with “foreign fields.” This emphasises the word foreign, stressing Brookes feeling of patriotism even if you were to die in a foreign country. In the third line Brooke the word England is introduced for the first time which is somewhat strange because of the patriotism views of Brooke.

The word England is then repeated several times in the poem, reinforcing Brooke’s intense love of his homeland. In the poem Brooke uses enjambment which gives the poem its measured, calm feel. Repetition is also used to influence the feeling of pride and glory. In the line “her flowers do love,” Brooke refers to nature as a calming contrast to the war that is taking place. Brooke uses personification when he refers to England as a person, “her sights her sounds dream happy as her day.” Brooke uses this personification as a way of saying fighting for your country is like repaying all the things England has done for you.

The structure of “Dulce et Decorum est,” is very intreseting as throughout the poem the speed and intensity of the poem is forever changing. “Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!” This use of monosyllabic words quickens up the poem and the usage of the exclamation marks higher the intensity. The poem opens with “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs And towards our distant rest began to trudge.” The heavy use of commas in the opening paints a picture of organised group of soldiers marching back from the front line. The rhyming scheme emphasises the sense of marching by using words such as, “sludge, trudge,” “boots, hoots,” and “blind, behind.” Also the rhyming scheme alternates in groups four.

The poem “Disabled,” has a very unique structure as it includes some of your senses, touch, sound, sight and smell.”Voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn.” The use of your senses helps the readers paint a clearer picture of how the man feels and is treated. Also as the poem changes between ten tenses the rhyming scheme is disguised.

Rupert Brooke’s poem “The Soldier” is a measured sonnet which has a break of eight and six. The use of the sonnet gives the poem its calm, controlled, measured and reassuring feel. Brooke use of heavy enjambment disguises the rhyming scheme which can be seen as there is no rhythm to the poem. However as the poem is a sonnet it clearly gets Brooke patriotic views across.

In conclusion I found the total contrast between the poets very interesting and can clearly understand the message the poems give. I find Wilfred Owens poems more engaging tho because of the true realistic tales he tells.

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