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 in its entirety. Throughout this piece Olds uses very harsh and cold words to give the reader chills and, hopefully, a feeling of the frostbitten tundra of Russia that these warriors were fighting in. From the very beginning you are given the feeling of this bitter cold, so cold that "the ground was frozen" (2). In addition, she says that the "gravediggers [were] weak from hunger" (2), giving the feeling that all is dead in this frozen wasteland, not only the soldiers, but those who are to bury them. Even nature itself has been seemingly destroyed by its own harsh surroundings. This is most certainly not the same glorious portrayal of war that is seen through the "lust of eye", but in fact, there are very few eyes left alive to lust over anything at all.Owen uses a sharp and biting choice of words as well. Using pointed and sharp sounding words, such as 'knock-kneed, coughing" (2) gives the reader a definite feeling of the harshness of war, almost like the crackling of machine gun bursts. In addition to this sharp sound, Owen makes use of many action words near the end, like "guttering, chocking, drowning"(16) to give a frantic feeling to this mans last moments of life, the reader can feel the mans pointless struggle for life. 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 seek...


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