Term Paper: Life William Blake's Poem

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[. . .] As we read though the poem we see that there is a change of attitude when there is an incident effect the solders. There is an 'ecstasy of fumbling' as there is an event that is taking the soldiers out of the numbness that they have fallen into with the terrible condition, this numbness needs to be relieved and even the threat of gas is a relief to the monotony and numbness of the mind. It is for this reason it is an ecstasy, and events start to occur so quickly.

The events that are seen in war are often described as the pain and the horror, but this time there is another analogy made, that of the sea and a drowning man. To drown is not a quick or a simple death, it is in where there are circumstances the dying man cannot control, they will be out of control, and the death will be in throws.

These death throws are describes so they cannot be interpreted as anything heroic or noble, only painful to both the man dying and those who watch, wondering if they are next and when it will happen. The man who is suffering in the poem want to be saved, there is help, but none that will save him, only that which is there to hold and watch, so that he is not on his own. The humiliation of his struggling is seen, and the death is unavoidable, the mist like the sea and the memories of nightmare are all intertwined; "As under a green sea, I saw him drowning….. As under a green sea, I saw him drowning In all my dreams, before my helpless sight He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning" (Owen PG).

The dying of this man is a horror, and a horror that must be watched as they cannot leave him alone, the way that he suffers must be seen as a horror, and far removed form the old ideas where it is noble to die for one's country, as to be in the position where "white eyes writhing in his face" there is little here to be written about in an epic suitable to be retold to children in the future.

We can also argue that there is a contradiction in the way that war is seen as heroic as it is liken with the evil forces and the way n which this poor man is faced with the consequences of war. It takes evil to create this, and even the evil may be sick if the extreme to which it has gone. We see the words " His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin" (Owen PG). This does not mean that the dying man is a devil, but in fighting this war he has been cast in a role closer to that than of a hero.

As the poem continues the man is dying, and the war he has fought in has not purified his soul, his gurgling death rattles only give rise to the argument of this evil of war corrupting those who are involved in its continuation.

In this we see that there is also another use of death, here it is likened to a cancer. Cancer, in the twentieth century, is a taboo subject. No one wants to suffer form cancer as it is seen as a death sentence, even if the death is not straight away. At the time of the poem being written there were not the same number of cures for cancer, and it had an evil reputation for the way in which it would take life, often attacking with no outward symptoms until it was too late. Here the death seen form the perspective of the poet is "Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud" (Owen PG).

When we look to history there are no hero's dying with gurgling lungs, tormented faces, and certainly not with anything associated with cancer. It is with these analogies that Owen makes us realise that this is not an heroic death, it is an idiotic death, where the manner of the dying is not suited to be retold to children, or adults. It is the result of a commitment and conditions that meant the commitment remained through a numb mind when even the purpose of the fighting was forgotten, and " Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori" is shown to be a lie and a falsehood propagated by those who know no better or who are themselves a symptom of the evil cancers, and wish to use those who believe it, for their own means.

Therefore within these two poems we can argue that the two styles are different in attitude yet ultimately both serve a higher purpose, one the lamb by Blake offers us a sight of God within ourselves to save us and Owen's work gives us the way in which to save ourselves, not through the heroic format of war but by peace and love.

Work Cited

Roberts EV, Jacobs H.E (2000) Literature: An Introduction… [END OF PREVIEW]

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