Saturday, 11 March 2017

Poetry Comparisons

I've been working on poetry comparison using the anthology poems from EDUQAS this week with some of my Year 11 students.  

Regardless of the exam board that you are studying, I would advise approaching the comparison question in the same way.

1.  Pick out 3 points per poem that answer the question.  We were looking at how conflict was shown in 'Dulce' and another poem.  We chose Mametz Wood.  

2.  Write these in a table - see my example below.  You put the 3 points for each side by side and see how they match up.

3.  When you write, follow each row of your table in order to create a comparative paragraph.  

4.  Remember, you are always being assessed on how you select quotes and analyse them, with language/structure terminology, for how they impact on the reader.  You should be able to work through each paragraph that you write and underline the examples of language/structure features that you have named.  You should also be able to see the word 'reader'.  I still use the PEACE model to do this -

ANALYSIS (with language and structure terminology)
EFFECT (on the reader)

5.  Make sure each paragraph ends with a clear comparative comment.

The one thing I haven't done in my answer is compare directly the devices that the poets have used.  This is my target for improvement next time!  Watch this space.

QUESTION: (b) Choose one other poem from the anthology in which the poet also writes about conflict. Compare the presentation of conflict in your chosen poem to the presentation of conflict in Dulce Et Decorum Est. [25]


Conflict has left the soldiers exhausted and vulnerable
In the conflict, the soldiers were fragile
Horror of conflict
Horror of conflict
It is not ‘sweet and fitting’ to die in conflict (fighting for your country)
The orders given by commanders in the conflict seemed unfair

In Dulce Et Decorum Est, Wilfred Owen presents the British soldiers fighting in WW1 as exhausted and vulnerable. He writes, “Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots/But limped on, blood-shod.” The full stop at the end of the short sentence, ‘Men marched asleep’, creates a caesura, highlighting how exhausted the men were. The metaphor implies that the men were so tired, they seemed like they were asleep whilst they marched. Also, the verb ‘limped’ seems to suggest that the men’s feet were hurting from losing ‘their boots’, but they carried on regardless, even though they were ‘blood-shod’. The adjective ‘blood’ connotes how injured their feet were. Owen seems to be drawing attention to the appalling conditions the men were fighting in during WW1 to his reader. The equipment was often poor and second-hand, meaning that uniforms didn’t always fit correctly. This would leave the soldiers exposed and vulnerable in the conflict. In Mametz Wood, Owen Sheers also appears to draw the reader’s attention to the vulnerability of the soldiers, although the soldiers he depicts are skeletons, viewed in their graves long after the conflict of WW1 has ended. Sheers writes, “the relic of a finger, the blown/and broken bird’s egg of a skull’. He uses metaphors to suggest that the soldiers were fragile, their bones were ‘relics’, a delicate object from the distant past; their skulls ‘blown and broken bird’s egg’. The voiced plosive alliteration here, coupled with the enjambment on ‘blown’, mimics spitting out words, as though the fragility of the bones horrifies the writer and should horrify the reader too. Both Owen and Sheers present the British soldiers as weak in conflict; even the strongest men would have been tested by the conditions depicted in Dulce and the weapons that were being used in WW1.

Furthermore, both poets show the horrors of conflict in their respective pieces. Sheers writes, “their jaws, those that have them, dropped open’. Some of the skeletons that he sees in the grave are missing jaws, he uses caesura on ‘those that have them’ to try to convey the horrific injuries that some of the soldiers were subjected to when they died. The verb ‘dropped’ presents the ones who do have jaws as open-mouthed. This looks like singing, yet they have died screaming. This will present the violence of the conflict to the reader. Owen also shows violence, yet his soldier’s suffering is depicted at the time of the conflict, not long after his death. He ‘plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.’ The list of vicious verbs connotes the pain that the man was in, yet Owen was ‘helpless’ to do anything about it. Owen was writing at the time of the war about things that he witnessed when fighting in the conflict. This contrasts to Sheers, who is a modern poet writing about WW1 as a memorial, to try and remember those who died and the sacrifices that they made. He chooses to use the images that he has seen of the conflict in his poem, which is focused on the remains of the bodies, nearly 100 years after the war was being fought. The reader is still shown the horror of the suffering experienced in the conflict in both poems though, even if the method is different.

Finally, both poems convey some anti-conflict sentiment. Owen overtly states ‘The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est/Pro patria mori’. He is telling his reader, who he addresses directly with the second person pronoun ‘you’ in the final stanza, that he does not believe the Latin motto, that ‘sweet and fitting it is to die for your country’. The images of suffering connote that death in conflict can be violent, slow and painful. Sheers also seems to be unhappy with the way that WW1 was fought, although he does not state this as clearly as Owen. Sheers writes, ‘across this field where they were told to walk, not run’. His writing here is less figurative. He writes simply ‘they were told to walk not run’. The simple verbs, ‘walk’ and ‘run’, are juxtaposed; the comma creates a caesura on ‘not run’, emphasising that they were not allowed to run. This line suggests to the reader that the commands given were unfair, that even as the soldiers advanced on the ‘nesting machine guns’, they couldn’t run, making them easy targets. In WW1, the soldiers fighting in the conflict were already ill-equipped to cope with battling against modern weaponry, such as the machine guns in the poem. This left them very exposed to harm. That they were told they couldn’t even ‘run’ would seem cruel, as though the men were being given no chance to survive. Both poets seem to have anti-conflict sentiment in their poems, even though they were writing them 90 years apart.

No comments:

Post a Comment