The length of the two poems is noticeably different, with ‘AWIL’ being much shorter than ‘CUFTFF’. From reading the poems, you can realise that ‘CUFTFF’ is much more descriptive than ‘AWIL’. We are given details of how the characters are related to each other, by reading “mother”, “father” and “son”. Also, we are given a very clear and precise description of the setting, compared to ‘AWIL’. I think that the author has done this to focus the reader on a particular family, to make them realise their true loss.
The more a reader knows about the characters and their surroundings, the more they will be able to understand a message from another’s point of view. ‘AWIL’ contrasts sharply with this aspect of the poem; this poem is considerably short and straightforward with less description. I believe that the author has chosen to write the poem in this way to imply to the audience that this loss applied to so many women. As a reader, we know that the poem does not focus on any person in particular, as the author has chosen to use the terms “she” and “he”.
Also, we are not given any indication as to what these characters look like. This style of writing gets a similar message across to the audience in a completely different way. The theme and the meaning of the two poems are undeniably identical. I believe that the theme of the both the poems is grief and the reality of war. I also believe that the authors of the poems were trying to convey a strong message; that it is not just the soldiers who suffer in the war, but it is also very much the families too.
This message also shows that war effected almost everyone in an emotional way, and that war was not as ‘glorious’ as it was portrayed to be. This brings me also to believe that the authors of these two poems both shared the same feelings and attitudes toward war. I think that they felt deeply sorry for those who had lost loved ones in battle. Some words chosen by the two authors of these poems create the same meaning but in totally different ways. For example, Thomas Hardy, the author of ‘AWIL’, has chosen to reveal the soldier’s death by using the word “fallen”.
This is a much softer way of revealing that the wife’s husband had been killed in battle and makes the reader sympathetic towards the wife. Walt Whitman, the author of ‘CUFTFF’ however, chose to write “he is dead”. I believe that this is more shocking for the reader, as they are not expecting it especially as they have just been told “Pete will soon be better”. The two ways of revealing the death of the soldiers are different and, whilst the reader is feeling sympathetic in both cases, the words also have different affects on them.
The tones of these poems begin and end quite differently. At the beginning of ‘AWIL’, the mood is very eerie, cheerless and gloomy, whilst the atmosphere is being illustrated. Words such as “tawny vapour” and “cold” create this tone. As a reader, you can tell something terrible is about to be revealed, so you are prepared by for it. At the beginning of ‘CUFTFF’ however, the tone is cheery, optimistic and joyful. This mood is created by words such as “leaves fluttering”, “calm”, “vital” and “beautiful”.
These words not only create a peaceful atmosphere, but also the reader is not expecting something bad to occur. Although the news of the injured son brings a sad tone to the poem, hope is restored when the letter states “At present low, but will soon be better”. As the tone of ‘AWIL’ prepares the reader for bad news, it is no surprise to them when the tragedy is revealed. The mood suddenly turns darker and depressing. The quotation “the fog hangs thicker” when the poem is referring to the next day, implies that matters are worse, as the wife has been waiting all this time for bad news.
The next part of the poem, when the wife is reading the letter from her husband, is ironic but also has a sense of happiness; the husband has written about all the things he hopes to do with his wife when he returns home. The words “penned in highest feather” indicate that the husband was in a very hopeful and optimistic mood, and so this changes the tone of the poem. Towards the end of ‘CUFTFF’ the tone of the poem takes an unexpected turn when the reader is shocked with the words ‘he is dead already’. Instantly, the mood is changed to misery and hopelessness.
Like ‘AWIL’, this poem uses irony but in a different way, as the family received the letter of hope after the son had died. This leaves the poem on a note of despair. In conclusion the audience of the two poems can see how different strategies of approaching similar stories can change the way meaning is illustrated. The main similarity between the two poems is their message although they have been expressed in some very dissimilar ways. The main difference between the two poems is their structure and methods of bringing the pint of the poem across to the reader.