Compare and Contrast Tennyson's Charge of the Light Brigade with Owen's Dulce Et Decorum Est

Topics: Crimean War, Charge of the Light Brigade, Poetry Pages: 9 (3908 words) Published: July 3, 2010
Compare and Contrast Tennyson’s Charge Of The Light Brigade with Owen’s Dulce Et Decorum Est

War and poetry have been linked for hundreds of years. The function of poetry in war is to aid the memory and convey details of war. Over the centuries it became a way in which people could communicate not only stories but also ideas and emotions in an imaginative and expressive way. One characteristic of the link between poetry and war has remained: Throughout the history of war, poems have provided a commentary on what people, communities and nations do.

The first of two poems that to be analysed is The Charge Of The Light Brigade written in 1854 by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809 – 1892). Tennyson was a famous, well recognised writer. His father, George Clayton Tennyson was a rector and vicar so Tennyson was born into a religious family which could influence his poems. He was well educated and studies at Trinity College Cambridge. He wrote in blank verse and couldn’t follow conventional rhyme schemes as he was tone deaf. He attempted to write drama but had limited success. He was Poet Laureate from 1850 to 1892 and was made Baron in 1884. He died aged 83 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. Tennyson did not fight in any wars so did not have the same knowledge of war when writing COTLB as the writer of the second poem, Wilfred Owen. COTLB was written during the Crimean War. The Crimean War was fought between 1854 and 1856 and involved Britain, France and Turkey against Russia. It was for control over a holy land. The fighting should have ended in summer 1854 but it was decided that the great Russian naval base at Sevastopol was a direct threat to the security of the region and in September 1854 the French and British landed their armies on the Crimean peninsula. At the Battle of Balaklava the British suffered a great loss. The winter of 1854-55 brought great misery to the troops, particularly to the British as they were short of everything. Finally, in early 1856, Sevastopol fell and the war was brought to an end by the Peace of Paris. Newspaper reports at the time were very emotive and glorified the soldiers. The use of metaphors made the articles more entertaining than informing. The use of euphemistic language got the reader not to think of death and the horror of the war (“…noble fellow’s death cry…”). COTLB is based on a part of the Crimean War where an allied commander failed to take account of the fact that he was on a hill and could see what was going on and his troops could not. His troops then marched straight into enemy lines. The enemy was armed with guns and artillery. However, only 673 allied soldiers were involved in that charge and only 157 of them were killed in it.

The second of the poems to be looked at is Dulce Et Decorum Est written in 1917 by Wilfred Owen (1893 – 1918). Owen fought in World War I. He didn’t want to fight but believed it was his duty. His experience of war was brief but eventful, experiencing some of the most horrific things. In May 1917 he was caught in a shell explosion and was diagnosed with shell shock. He was evacuated to England in June. It was during his spell in hospital that he met fellow war poet Siegfried Sassoon (also a patient). The period after this was one of his most creative and was when he wrote many of the poems for which he is remembered today. In June 1918 he rejoined his regiment and returned to France. He was killed on November 19th 1918 leading his men across the Sombre canal at Ors (only a week before the end of the war). World War I was fought between 1914 and 1918. The war was Britain, France, Russia and Belgium against Germany, Austria and Hungary. The war ended in an allied victory and the establishment of the League of Nations. Since the Crimean War, weapons and technology had advanced. In the Crimean War, weapons such as bayonets, daggers and cannons were used whereas in WWI machine guns, gas and bombs were used. The weapons in WWI were more effective and...
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