War in Poetry

War in Poetry

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War in Poetry


Since before man could begin to remember, war has been an omnipresent course of action as conflict has been, and still is, wide spread throughout the world. War is seen by some as a grim evil, while others perceive it to be a brave and glorious feat. These conflicting views have been the themes behind many works of literature, especially many works of poetry. In these poems the poets try to convey their beliefs of war using many different literary elements, such as imagery and tone. In the poems "Dulce et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen, and "The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Lord Alfred Tennyson, two contradicting and different view towards war are portrayed through the authors' uses of imagery and tone.
In "Dulce et Decorum Est" Owen paints a pessimistic picture of what war really is like. Owen himself lost his life fighting for the British during WWI in 1918, the poem being published posthumously two years later. He describes the treacherous lives the soldiers lived while fitting in the war. He describes the weak physical and emotional conditions they experienced as they made there way through the mud and sludge. As the poet he gives an accurate portrayal of the negativity of war to reader, this is mainly done in his description of one solider who cannot affix his gas mask in time to thwart off a gas attack. His vivid description of this soldier's painstaking death illustrates the horrors of war. His pessimistic tone is exemplified at the end of the poem where he contradicts the old Latin saying, Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori, "It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country" by labeling it an "old lie".
Contrary to Owen's views towards war, Lord Alfred Tennyson gives a more optimistic view of war in his poem entitled "The Charge of the Light Brigade". Tennyson wrote this poem as part of his duties as Poet Laureate of Great Britain. The poem was written to commemorate a tremendous feat made by a British Calvary unit in the Crimean War. Tennyson portrays a more glorious and heroic battlefield compared to Owen. He describes loud cannons going off, and shiny sabers being wailed around, as men on horses attack each other, as though it were right out of an old movie.

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He does not ignore the death associated with war; however, he praises it as being meritorious and noble. This exemplifies his optimistic and celebrated views of war, which is evident in his final lines where he writes
"When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered
Honor the charge they made!
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!"


These authors offer contradicting views of war, however they're ways in doing so were quite similar. It is through the use of imagery and tone that they were able to portray convincing descriptions in each of their cases despite their contradictions.
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