Poem Comparison Essay
The three poems are written by Wilfred Owen are based on war, and reveal the horrors of war. They are sad, and he uses these poems to express his bad feelings and hatred for war. Despite their similarities, they differ in certain ways as well. For example, Anthem for Doomed Youth is about how nobody is concerned for the dead soldiers and their efforts, Arms and The Boy is about how war transforms people into bloodthirsty monsters, and Futility is about a dead soldier lying in the fields of France.
Structurally, Futility and Anthem for Doomed Youth are similar because they are both sonnets. However, they once again differ in that Futility is a more irregular sonnet, written in two verses of seven and seven with a rhyme scheme of ABABCCC DEDEFFF. It is irregular because it has no iambic pentameter, and overall the meter is very inconsistent. It uses half rhymes such as “once” and “France”, or “star” and “stir”. Anthem for Doomed Youth is more conventional with verses of eight and six, with a rhyme scheme of ABABCDCD EFFEGG. It has iambic Pentameter.
Arms and the Boy have three verses of four lines with a half rhyme scheme of AABB CCDD EEFF. It has an iambic rhythm. Arms and the Boy have a contradictory title because boys and war should not normally go together. Arms and the Boy use a register of terms to make the boy sound horrible, like a monster. It uses words and phrase such as “Hunger of Blood”, “Madman’s Flash”, and “Famishing for Flesh”. These three terms show the monstrosity of the soldiers, and criticises their thirst for killing. He shows us his feelings of hatred and despair towards them. There is also a register of predatory weapons, such as “teeth, claws, talons, antlers”. This portrays him as an animal in two ways, one is for his savageness in being so determined to kill, but also in that, animals use their bare limbs for killing, and so does he (arms to operate guns and to use bayonets).
Anthem for Doomed Youth also has a contradictory title because there is no anthem for the doomed youth, as shown by “What passing bells for those who die as cattle?” which shows they died without dignity, let alone a funeral or anthem. It describes what should be their funeral, but is not. It shows what they are not getting, but really should be getting. The second stanza shows an ending for them by using word like goodbyes and “drawing down of blinds”. The second line is very clever because it reflects Shakespeare’s saying of “life’s a theatre, and all men and women merely players”. A show ends with drawing down of curtains or blinds, and their lives metaphorically end like that.
Futility is about a soldier who is dying in the sun. We are told he is a farmer because of the line “At home, whispering of fields unsown”. It portrays the sun as a mother, because of the caring words used to describe it such as gently. It portrays the sun as a kind figure that woke up the soldier on a regular basis. On this occasion, it cannot. The sunbeams “toil” to keep him awake but that still does not work. This is because nature (the sun) cannot interfere with manmade affairs (war). There is snow present, which is a figure of death because it is cold and harsh, opposite of the warm and gentle sun. He is appalled how our limbs “so dear achieved” can be used as tools as destruction.