‘Dulce et Decorum est’ by Wilfred Owen and ‘The Soldier’ by Rupert Brooke are poems about war but treat the subject completely differently. Dulce et speaks about the bitter reality of war while The Soldier glorifies dying for your country. ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ on its own means it is honourable to die for ones country. The title is misleading as Owen goes on to reveal the cold truth about war and tells us, ‘My friend, you would not tell with such high zest To children ardent for some desperate glory, The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori”.
Also putting the title in Latin makes the poem more realistic, as if ‘The old lie’ has been told for centuries. The title, ‘The Soldier’ evokes a wasted life but the poem shows that in fact it is honourable to die for your country. The poem was written at the start of the war to try and convince young men to go to war as ‘The Soldier’ could be anybody and applies to all.
Throughout the first stanza of Dulce et Owen uses effective similes to portray a tone of dirty, grimy experiences the soldiers had to go through. ‘Like beggars under sacks. Lets you feel the restrictive movement of the soldiers. ‘Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots But limped on”. This draws you in with the graphic war scene. “we cursed through the sludge”. Fatigue portrayed by language such as “trudge” and “lame”, “Drunk with fatigue” is a vivid image, describing the scene as they struggle through the mud to put the war behind them.
To begin the second stanza Owen uses, ‘Gas! GAS! Quick boys! ’ to make a chaotic scene. ‘Fumbling’ truly signifies the soldiers’ state of panic.
In the third stanza Owen writes about a man who does not manage to put his helmet on in time and is consumed in gas and ‘floundering like a man in fire or lime… ’ The use of the word fire makes you image hell and painful death. ‘As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. ’ When a person is consumed with gas they are ‘drowned’ as the gas fills their lungs. In the final stanza the perspective changes from 1st to 3rd person, I to You, and is the scene after the gas has gone and the man is dead. It is more graphic and gory than the other stanza’s and shocks you with several metaphors and the truth. His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin… Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud’. ‘Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,’ This explains the whole message of the poem, the innocent young men who are dying of horrific deaths who are being told, ‘The old lie: Dulce et decorum set Pro patria mori’. Also Owen uses onomatopoeia with ‘g’, ‘c’ and hissing ‘s’ which sounds harsher to the ear. ‘Knock-kneed… sludge… trudge… guttering… chocking… gargling’. The Soldier was written at the start of the war to attract young men to sign up.
Though this poem is a sonnet, it is not addressed to a person but to England. In the first stanza, Brooke gives the impression of England being a timeless, wonderful land ‘If I should die think only this of me… Washed by the rivers, blest by the suns of home’. There is a light, flowing rhythm with repetition of England and focused on love for England. ‘That is forever England… A dust whom England bore… A body of England’s, breathing English air’. In the second stanza Brooke explains how his love for England has ‘shed all evil away’, and is now ‘A pulse in the eternal mind’.
In the last four lines Brooke says how it is giving something back to England and how his heart is at peace under an English heaven. There are several differences between Dulce et and The Soldier. While Dulce et coveys the horrific reality of war and convinces against dying for ones country, The Soldier stresses how it is an honour to die for ones country. I think Dulce et is better at conveying its message than The Soldier. The Soldier uses simple language to appeal to numerous people, but Dulce et has more emotion and meaning and makes you think carefully about the horrors of war.