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Opposition To War In Leningrad Cemetary And Dulce Et Decorum Est

1736 words - 7 pages

In her poem "Leningrad Cemetery, Winter of 1941", Sharon Olds very frankly and very succinctly states her opinions on war, fighting, and the so-called "lust of the eye". She goes about this in such a manner that it is at once pleasing and eye opening to the reader. Wilfred Owens "Dulce et Decorum Est" deals with this same topic, with much the same feeling, but goes about it in more gruesome and personal way. Through both of these poems, the reader is shown that there is no beauty in war, when examined closely. To make their points, both authors use harsh diction, vivid imagery, a mournful tone, and gripping line breaks.The words used by Olds tell us as much about her views as does the poem ...view middle of the document...

This is very powerful; in that it gives the reader excited anticipation, and makes them want to continue. These are all very similar to the methods used by Olds to convey her message. One tool used by Owen more than Olds, though, is that of the particularly gruesome details. Owen uses the phrases "gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs"(22), "obscene as cancer, bitter as cud"(23), and "vile incurable sores on innocent tongues" to again portray war as the sickening entity that it is. Like Olds, he uses very detailed and personal images to combat Gray's idea of the sublime.While the reader is not given a glorious and heroic picture to lust over, it is, nonetheless, given a clear and vivid picture to gaze upon. Olds' poem uses very vivid imagery to give the reader a grim view of this bleak and sorrowful scene. Images of corpses "wrapped in dark cloth" (6) as they await the afterlife fly through ones mind as the mountains of dead that "could not be buried" (1) make themselves as clear as reality. These brave men, many of whom fought seeking the picture given of the lust of the eye, now have not even the dignity of being buried, but instead are left in some sort of limbo, without the finality of a funeral. Wanting life, wanting even life with the "bread made of glue and sawdust", wanting to return to the war that killed them. This grim picture gives the reader a very clear view of Olds' feelings on the atrocities of war.The imagery of "Dulce et Decorum Est" is also extremely vivid and graphic. Very early on the reader is painted a picture not wholly unlike that of "Leningrad Cemetery", dead strewn about without regard. The soldiers portrayed as weak "old beggars"(1) "coughing like hags"(2). This vision, however, soon strays from the path of "Leningrad Cemetery" and grows very active, frantic, and more disturbing. As the yelling of the man caught by gas comes tearing trough the "hoots"(7) of mortars the visual picture becomes far grimmer. Everything is seen through a "thick green light as under a green sea"(13,14); helping to portray the feeling of drowning as toxic gas fills the once clean air. This grave portrait of death is a perfect antithesis to the "lust of the eye".These atrocities are also very clearly shown through the tone used in the poem. While reading "Leningrad Cemetery", one cannot help but feel the sorrow and angst felt by the dying becoming the dead, and the living becoming the dying. It all feels very surreal, and often Olds uses different items to evoke these feelings. The "child's sled" (4) for example really brings a sense of reality and loss of innocence to the poem, helping to bring out that surreal tone, the realization that soldiers are people, and that they aren't the only casualties of war. Women, children, and civilians lay in wait of their next life right next to those who had, in one way or another, chosen their fates. Another item that adds to that same overall tone of surrealism is the "ball of roots" (7). A ball of...

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