In this essay I will be comparing the two poems, ‘The Man He Killed’ by Thomas Hardy and ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ by Wilfred Owen. ‘The Man He Killed’ is about a man who was in the war and is thinking about his memories in the war. The main part of his experience in the war that he is reminiscing is the killing that he committed and the majority of the poem is focused on that. Thomas Hardy did not go to war himself but it could be thought that he got the idea from a friends experience in the war. The poem is based on the Boer War. The message of the poem is that he was most probably very similar to the man he killed, as in not really knowing what they’re fighting for and why they’re there. ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ is about someone who is telling of his memory of watching a fellow soldier choke to death in a gas attack. The majority of the poem is of the person describing the moment of seeing his comrade choke in vast detail. The poem was written by Wilfred Owen, who fought in the war and it may be possible that this poem is a first hand experience. It is thought that the poem is set in World War I. The whole phrase is actually ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori which is Latin. It translates into: ‘It is sweet and honourable to do for your country. Even though both poets show that they do not agree with war, they both express their point of views in different ways. Wilfred Owen actually fought in the war, so his poem is a lot more detailed, whereas Thomas Hardy did not go to war, so his poem goes into much less detail, maybe signifying his inexperience in war. While reading ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ you get the feeling that the words are very heartfelt and the excessive detail suggests to you that Wilfred Owen did experience this himself, which makes the poem all the more meaningful. On the other hand, ‘The Man He Killed’ is a somewhat calmer poem – but still delivering the same idea that war is wrong. This idea may not come across as strongly as ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ delivers it, but this may possibly be down to the fact that Thomas Hardy’s poem is from someone else’s point of view, not his own. These two poems are both still popular in the twenty-first century, which may be because of the fact they are not aimed at a single war, the can both be related to any war that has gone on or that is currently going on in the twenty-first century. Some of the themes from the poems are similar, such as the obvious war and death, but the main theme and message is different. ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ focuses more at patriotism and how war actually affects soldiers. ‘The Man He Killed’ looks past politics and the rules that we should hate our enemies, and shows them from a human perspective. Thomas Hardy’s poem which suggests that even though they’re fighting for the opposing country, they are still the same in some sense, can be backed up by the example of when in 1914 the English and German soldiers put down their guns and played football together. Hardy’s poem is a statement that people who actually fight in wars should not be fighting. As, in fact, if they were to meet in different circumstances they would have been friends. This is shown in the poem when it says ‘you’d shoot a fellow down... if you met where any bar is, you’d help to half a crown. ’ This quote is saying how strange it is that you would kill a man, who in any other circumstances, you would probably get along with. The tone of ‘The Man He Killed’ is of guilt, confusion and regret. He is disappointed and angry at himself for what he had done. On the other hand the tone of ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ is of disgust, suffering, and regret. Wilfred Owen put this across very well, for when he says ‘froth-corrupted lungs’, ‘white eyes writhing in his face’ and ‘incurable sores on innocent tongues’. These create disgusting images in your head, which is one of the main themes of the poem. Thomas Hardy and Wilfred Owen both use poetry devices in their poems. There is colloquial language throughout the whole of ‘The Man He Killed’, there are no similes or metaphors which give off a very simple effect, as if it is just a normal conversation with someone. Dulce Et Decorum Est’ uses devices that create very strong images into your head. ‘Under a green sea’ this metaphor gives you the image of it being everywhere, as if you’re drowning in it with no escape. When the poet also writes ‘GAS! Gas! ’ it gives off a sense of urgency. Also, when it says ‘Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time’ the word clumsy gives you the image that everyone is rushing and panicking, making them clumsy as they rush to get their helmets on. In conclusion, I think both poets express their view about war very effectively, Thomas Hardy who concentrates on criticizing the fact that people go to war and do not know what they’re fighting for, fighting for someone else’s problems. While Wilfred Owen concentrates more on how the propaganda deceived and tricked everyone into going to war, pressurizing them into going with the many war recruitment posters. In my opinion, both poets show valid reasons against war and support their opinions with many strong poetic devices.
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