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Compare the poets attitude to war in ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ by Wilfred Owen and ‘Who’s for the game? ’ by Jesse Pope In this essay I will be comparing the poets attitudes to war in ‘Dulce et decorum est’ by Wilfred Owen and ‘Who’s for the game? by Jesse Pope. ‘Dulce et decorum est’ is about the unglamorous reality of trench life, while ‘Who’s for the game? ’ is a propaganda poem published in the Daily Mail encouraging young men to join the army. Both have different views and attitudes to war and there poems are quite different. Wilfred Owen’s poem is positive, whilst Jesse Pope’s is positive.

Although both poems are about war they have vastly different attitude to war. Pope’s ‘Who’s for the game? ’ encourages young men to join, promotes the positives and makes those who don’t join feel like outsiders. For example the ‘who’ll grip and tackle the job unafraid? ’, which is implying that those who don’t join the war are afraid of the war. This is very effective because they use emasculation to make a man feel like less of a man. Furthermore their family would feel embarrassed and pressured by others who have joined the army.

Young men ,during that war, also thought that joining the army would be like an adventure and that they would have a blast. Many people also underestimated the war and assumed that it would all be over by Christmas. On the other hand ‘Dulce et decorum est’ focuses on the negatives aspects like death, war and the harshness of it. In the very first line Owen writes ‘Bent double, like beggars under sacks’ as soon as the reader starts the poem they already know that Owen is strongly denying the concept: ‘Dulce et Decorum est’- that it is sweet and honourable to die for your country.

By using that it sets the theme for the rest of the poem, which is about the untold story of trench life. While ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ is a poem about the reality of war, Pope’s ‘Who’s for the game? ’ is promoting the war and portrays it as a game. She uses word and phrases usually used in sports such as: ‘grip’; ‘tackle’; ‘Signal to Go! ’ and ‘toe the line’. Using these words she makes the comparison between war and game more effective. On the other hand Owen’s ‘Dulce et Decdorum est’ is the hard reality of going to fight for your country.

Therefore he focuses on describing the soldiers’ vunerable and poor situation as already seen ‘Bent double, like beggar under sacks’. Instantly this sets the subject matter for the poem, by comparing soldiers, who are thought to be of as strong and healthy, to beggars. This comparison is effective because beggars are thought of as weak, dirty and vunerable, which is what he is trying to get the reader to imagine. Although the Pope’s poem is about war she had never experience the war first hand, compared to Owen who was a soldier and had actually joined the army.

Jesse Pope was a writer and journalist and her work was often described as being very patriotic as can be seen in ‘Who’s for the game? ’. Her attitude was that war was a game, and that young men should take part in the war. Pope was also part of the propaganda pro-war poets, who encouraged and pressured young men to join. Unlike today woman, during that time, were not allowed to join the army. The fact that a woman wrote this poem was also very significant, because men felt that they couldn’t refuse a woman and that their pride and honour was very important.

Whereas Wilfred Owen was a soldier and had joined the army, been injured, but still came back. Sadly Owen, who was against the war, died in action one week before the end of the war. The tone in the poem reflects the poets different attitudes. Owen’s ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ tone sounds betrayed, angry and upset. One line that reflects the betrayal is ‘The old lie: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori’. This line is also the title and the betrayal he feels towards the propaganda is clear, because his discusses the negatives of war throughout his poem and does not mention anything positive about the war.

On the other hand Pope’s ‘Who’s for the game? ’ is more excited and upbeat and she uses words like ‘Come along, lads’ to suggest it’s a game and that all are welcome to play. I think both poems had alot of poetic techniques both use rhyme. Pope uses words that rhyme like ‘tight’ and ‘fight’, and Owen used word like ‘sludge’ and ‘trudge’ . I think both poets used rhyme (a sound device) so that the poem could be appreciated when read aloud. Especially words like ‘sludge’ and ‘trudge’ really exaggerate the soldiers movement and how hard it was for them to walk.

Pope also uses a extended metaphor comparing war to a game throughout the poem. This comparison is very effective because she tempts the reader by saying have fun and join us or watch and be part of the audience, which is made apparent when she writes ‘who wants a turn to himself in the show, and who wants a seat in the stand. She also uses repetition with the word ‘who’ll’ on the beginning of several lines and also uses collective personal pronouns like ‘you’ll, your and you’ as if she is speaking directly to the reader. On the other hand Owen uses the same technique (repetition) but for a different purpose.

This can be seen when he writes ‘I saw him drowning… He plunges at me guttering, choking, drowning’. He repeats these words to emphasize the shock and harshness that someone is dying and he can’t do anything about it, and the soldiers death is still haunting him after all this time. Likewise he repeats the words face ‘white eyes writhing in his face, his hanging face’ to really emphasize what he is seeing. Owen also uses personification, metaphors and similes in his poem. For instance ‘haunting flares’, ‘drunk with fatigue’ and ‘like hags’ to paint a picture of what the soldiers and their surroundings look like.

This is effective because the reader can empathise with the soldiers just from the description. Pope also uses personification by comparing the country to a woman she writes, ‘Your country is up to her neck in a fight’. This use of personification is effective because men feel they need to protect woman and so they feel responsible for their country. Both poets use poetic techniques such as: personification; repetition and rhyme to express their different views and attitudes towards war. So whilst they may have used the same techniques they used it for different purpose.

I think that their attitudes towards war are very different. Wilfred Owen’s ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ is what he thought and had personally experienced, while Jesse Pope’s ‘Who’s for the game? ’ was propaganda poem encouraging young men that the war was a game. Even though I don’t agree with Pope’s approach, I think it’s very effective and shows how her attitude towards war is very patriotic. I think Pope’s poem is very effective and I can understand why so many men felt they needed to join the army. They have different views and attitudes to war and express their personal views through their poems.



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