The use of onomatopoeia by both poets makes it clearer for us to envision the scene of the war. Tennyson uses “volleyed”, “thundered”, “stormed” to refer to the brave soldier’s rapid movement and recreate the echo in the battlefield. Owen uses it to describe the death of a soldier, he recreates the actual sound produced by the soldier in agony, “gargling” in the phrase “Come gargling from the forth-corrupted lungs” to make us relive the moment in which it took place.
Both poets include enjambment to offer special effects to the reader. Tennyson includes the enjambment “Not though the soldier’s knew/Some one had blundered”. The first line confuses the reader and puts them into suspense, as they are eager to find out what it was that the soldiers failed to notice. Consequently, the second line makes it clear that some one had a slip-up and that the soldier’s given task was a sheer mistake, thus their actions are in vain. Another one that Tennyson uses in which to create the same sort of effect as the last one as well as to astonish the reader “Into the valley of Death/Rode the six hundred.” The reader from the first line comprehends the fact that someone who enters the valley will inevitably be killed. They only find out that it is the soldiers themselves who are lured into this so called “valley of Death” which shocks the reader since the soldiers who are the subject of the poem are going to die. The delay of the message adds anxiety to the reader.
Similarly, Owen makes use of enjambment with the same intentions. In one of his enjambments, he purposely generates an air of anxiety by postponing his intention of what it is that you can hear and how exactly blood is related, “Come gargling from the forth-corrupted lungs/If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood”. Only when we read the next line, do we find that blood gargles from the poor man’s lungs, a horrible thing to experience. He engages with us by first person “If you could hear” so that we can put ourselves in that position and experience the dreadful scene. Another enjambment in Owen’s poem, “If in some smothering dreams you too could pace/Behind the wagon that we flung him in”.
The writer reschedules the message of what he wants us to speed at in a very oppressed dream hence creates tension and to some extent surprises the reader by telling them to race a wagon filled with a dead man. He brings the horror of the war to the reader. I assume he writes in a dream since the scene was so terrifying that one cannot ever experience it again, thus it has to be a “smothering dream” (You will have to read all of the third stanza to understand what is going on).
Tennyson utilizes alliteration on the “s” sound to emphasis that men were surrounded by gunfire and cannons “Stormed at with shot and shell,”. This is a sibilant alliteration, which increases the pace of the rhythm to recreate the real fast-paced event. Another alliteration Tennyson uses (same “s” sound) but to produce a very disappointing effect, a contrast to the whole fast high spirited poem, “Shattered and sundered”. Tennyson also uses alliteration to contrast Owen’s worthless soldiers by creating a feeling of nobility towards the soldiers “While horse and hero fell” (“h”). Owen uses a different form of alliteration to construct a furious and seething toner; “The old Lie; Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.” Owen repeats the letter “w” in the alliteration “And watch the white eyes writhing in his face” to mirror the distorted victim.
Tennyson cleverly uses euphemisms to put the dreadfulness of war in the stead and depict it in a very courteous manner. He respectfully tells us that as the charging soldiers attacked the awaiting enemy with their weapon, they died, as the enemy were simultaneously attacking them too; “Flashed all their sabres bare, Flashed as they turned in air”. The transformation to an air suggests their death. In the same stanza, he uses a similar euphemism.
He indicates that some of the soldiers out of the six hundred had died by substituting their gory death with a mild expression, “Then they rode back, but not, Not the six hundred”. The one that really sticks out for me are “Into the valley of Death”, “Into the jaws of Death” and “Into the mouth of hell” (where death and hell are personified to give the poem realism). He avoids the violent massacre of the soldier and instead gives them a superior status as they rode (a very powerful verb) to their own death gallantly. These all negate the violent of a war. However, Owen does not utilize any euphemisms. He writes what he sees which makes the poem more revolting but gives it realism.
One singular point about Tennyson’s poem is that he includes a rhetorical question “Was there a man dismayed?” Tennyson does this to encourage us to reflect on what the implied answer to the question must be which in this case is of course a yes since the soldiers are outnumbered and are charging into the ‘valley of death’, but still he asks us. My assumption is because he wants to certify us that there were in fact soldiers that were dismayed but due to their commitment and dignity for their nation, they carried on ahead. This gives the poem slight realism.
It can be said that ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ is mostly renowned for its celebration of war. One of the popular lines is; “Their’s not to make reply, Their’s not to reason why, Their’s but to do and die.” This is an excellent three-part structure telling us that the solders had no rights to determine their own fate. It makes it clear that the men’s duty was to obey unquestionably regardless of the gruesome, fatal consequences and if necessary even their own life. Therefore, we know how apprehensive and intricate the tasks solders have to carry out are. It shows one’s fortitude to take part in wars. However, it can be misinterpreted in another way, a non-heroic way that may offend people who are in the army as it makes them look like a toy that will almost perform anything when ordered to.
‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ has a slow start with a dark cyclic tone but as soon as we read the fifth line “Forward, the Light Brigade!”, the pace suddenly elevates dramatically. This line rhymes with the next, which maintains the fast tempo. The poem is generally fast. The three part structured lines like “Cannon to the right of them, “Cannon to left of them, Cannon in front of them” and the alliterations support this. However, each stanza ends quite slowly due to the grand toned line “Rode the six hundred”. The poem ends quite slowly so as to award a moment in time to the appreciated Light Brigade in a very grand tone “Honour the Light Brigade”. In between, it is quite emotional and sympathetic, “Shattered and sundered”, “While horse and hero fell”.
Whereas ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ is very sluggish to begin with. The speed only develops from the start of the second stanza when a desperate attention is alerted on behalf of the poisonous gas. It is soon slow down by the imagery of the dying soldier “And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime” I believe Owen does this to recreate the scene of the gas victim falling slowly as the others watch helplessly. The tempo progressively develops until the end. It is an angry oppressed tone throughout. It changes and slows down to a quite sympathetic but furious tone at the end “My friend, you would not tell…”
After analysing the two poems, I prefer ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ to ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’. It is more realistic as it’s filled with his own thoughts, feelings and reactions to reveal war. He offers a better graphic description of the effects. All of these are kept consistent throughout the poem. We are more inclined to believe his since he took part in the war. He succeeds in the message he’s trying to get across to the readers by using harsh revolting words and phrases to describe the atrocious events.
We are more engaged in his poem than in Tennysons. I personally admire the end bit; “The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est, Pro patria mori,” which literally means ‘it is sweet and right to die for your country’. It is shocking to know what the soldiers have to go through in war after reading Owens poem. People especially youths were misled and made to think that it was a glorious thing to die in war as a self sacrifice for the country. This was very appalling for men who experienced the dreadfulness of war.
Therefore, Owen notifies the horror of participating in war and criticizes the statement. He regards war as a waste of valuable life. Throughout the poem he contrasts this old lie. The thing I liked about Tennyson’s poem is that it commemorates the soldier’s epic act. Wars now are often considered a terrible thing and people usually tend to forget the sacrifice the valiant soldiers do in order to promote good by erasing evil. However, he is too passionate and exaggerates exceedingly. He lacks detail and the fact that his poem was influenced by a newspaper.