The soldier persona in he poem reflects on how the loss of his life would be a bittersweet event and that no matter where he dies, his burial place will always have the essence of England. Fighting for Great Britain was the ultimate sacrifice;there was no greater glory than dying for your country. This attitude was far and wide-spread at the start of the war. Brooke however, did not live to see much of the war, as he died of sepsis from a mosquito bite before he was involved in any real combat.
Brooke was a celebrated poet and after his death, he became a symbol of the tragic loss of talented youth due o the war. Ironically, Wilfred Owen was Inherently opposed to the war, due to It resulting In the tragic loss of youth. Having experienced the horrors of war flatland, Owen knew that there was nothing glorious about dying men. “Dulcet Et Decorum Est” is well known for its horrific imagery and its condemnation of war and has a bitter, cynical tone about it. Despite representing similar themes, both poets are vehement in their convictions and they position their reader very differently on the issue of war.
Strong use of imagery is characteristic of both poems to position readers to accept heir attitude. “The Soldier” conjures a pleasant scene of the English countryside to evoke a patriotic feeling, that fighting for England Is expected of a man. Brooks speaks of the glory and honor of war and of the nobility of fighting and dying for England: “In that rich earth a richer dust concealed/ a dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware… /Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,] Washed by the rivers, blest by the suns of home. Although the poem speaks of the possibility of dying far from home, the soldier will take with him a piece of England wherever he goes, and this shall physically enrich the soil, make him a ‘richer dust. ‘ England is personified as a gentle motherly figure to the soldier persona, she ‘bore, shaped, made aware’. The soldier persona also reflects on how England has given him ‘her flowers to love’ and ‘her ways to roam’. The soldier has obviously enjoyed an ideal, privileged childhood and these words create a sense of owing – that he owes it to England to fight for her.
The reference to England being a mother and a woman would also touch the heart of any man – postulating them to adopt a protective behavior towards England. He is obliged to fulfill his duty as a true man. This Idyllic English countryside Is faintly reminiscent of a Christian heaven and the use of this imagery is a highly effective method of pulling on the heartstrings of the traditional the purifying waters of the river washing away his sin. The use of the word ‘blest’ reinforces this Christian image of the soldier being blessed, privileged and glorifies his death.
The use of imagery and the language of the poem convey a heavenly, patriotic feel, and it positions the reader to see the importance and necessity of rotting and preserving England, for the better good. Wilfred Owen too uses imagery; however, his poem uses highly confronting imagery to position the reader to accept his view of war. “Dulcet Et Decorum Est” is a lucid protest against the unspeakable horrors of war. Owen presents the reader with confronting imagery of the war-torn soldiers and off man’s horrific death from chlorine gas. “Bent double, like old beggars under Jackson’s-kneed… Floundering like a man in fire or lime.. / As under a green sea, I saw him drowning… He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning… /Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs “As opposed to Brook’s reflective, upright soldier, the soldiers in this poem are nothing like the traditional image of the handsome, stoic young soldier. ‘Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,’ Owen compares these young men to spent old beggars, bent double from the weariness. Long gone is the honor and excitement of fighting – these are broken men, ‘knock kneed’, desensitizing to the horror.
The reference to the soldier who could to fit his gas helmet in time as floundering,’ he is like a fish out of water, drowning in the green sea. Owen describes the awfulness of the situation through the extensive use of onomatopoeia, ‘guttering, choking, gargling’ these harsh noises adding to the vivid imagery. Owen downright condemns the idea of dying for your country. There is no glory in dying men, puppets in a situation of their control. He uses confronting imagery to present the reader with the harsh realities of the war and to convince the reader that war is futile.