Analysis of Dulce est Decorum est

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The title ‘Dulce est Decorum est’ means, ‘How sweet and fitting it is to die’, so merely by just looking at the title it tells is that this is a poem about death. The title is written in Latin which makes the poem sound very old but powerful at the same time as Latin is a powerful language till today.

The poem is very powerful and it conveys the same message throughout, ‘War is devastating’, and this gives the readers the exact feeling that the poet wanted us to have. The poet uses powerful devices like similes, metaphors and most of all very strong imagery to convey the sense of hopelessness and loss. The 1st line grabs and pulls the reader in the poem. The poet uses simile in the first line ‘like old beggars under sack’ which shows that the soldiers had been fighting so much that they had become like beggars who hadn’t slept for days. The strong use of figurative language shows a clear image of the poet’s emotions. In line two, when he says, ‘Coughing like hags…’ it shows us that poet was very angry, frustrated but at the same time sad and depressed because his heart went out to the soldiers. The word ‘trudge’ in line four shows us how tired and hungry the soldiers were as they weren’t running but trudging as though they were using up all the time they had and walking really slowly because they knew that once they entered the war, there would be no turning back. ‘Men marched asleep…’ these three words create a very powerful image in our mind and gives rise to very intense emotions. The line, ‘Drunk with fatigue, deaf even to the hoots’, tells us that the soldiers had been fighting for so long that they were so tired and had no idea what was going on, They were fighting just for the sake of it. They also had heard so much noise that they were so used to it they couldn’t even hear the hoots.

The poet describes the droppings of gas-shells as ‘softly’ which tells us that here was no way of surviving from them as you wouldn’t even hear them coming. In line 7, he says ‘deaf even to the hoots’ but in line 8 he says ‘Gas! Gas! Quick boys!’ and then he says there was an ‘ecstasy of fumbling’ which tells us how disturbingly the soldiers had got up from their sleep and were fumbling to put on their masks, in order to save themselves from the gas. The phrase ‘ecstasy of fumbling’ is also an oxymoron as it shows us the intense fumbling that the soldiers were doing as if they were still very young and in ecstasy, but here it portrayed the opposite. The author uses ‘floundering like a man in fire…’ which shows how much the soldiers were confused and just dragging themselves in hopes that the war would get over soon. The poet shows us that they didn’t have time when he says ‘the wagon we flung him in’ which tells us that there wasn’t a single moment to lose as they didn’t even have time to put their fellow soldier’s body properly and had to just fling it in.

The use of words such as ‘guttering’, ‘choking’, ‘drowning’ arise such ghastly images in our mind that it is painful to even think about it. The description of the face of the man is very vivid, ‘white eyes withering in his face’ and ‘his face like a devil’s sick of sin’ which shows how bad the war was and dying was not at all sweet and fitting. The phrase ‘of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues’ tells us how the wounds made by the war, mentally not physically were so ugly that they were incurable and these innocent people did not need to see all of this.

In the third last line he addresses the reader himself almost as if saying very sadly and giving us advice that the ‘Old lie – How sweet and fitting it is to die for our country’ is nothing but an old lie which only brings more and more deaths to the country. The whole poem also emphasizes the stark contrast of the poem with the title, as it is not at all sweet to die in such a way.
All in all this poem gives us a very realistic idea of what war is and describes it very clearly stating that war brings devastation, frustration and sadness for many years to come, and that this bruise can never be cured no matter what you do.

Analysis of Song: Tears, Idle Tears

The poem, “Song: tears, Idle Tears” was part of a longer poem, and it was written as a song, as the title clearly states. Alfred lord Tennyson was British and was born in 1809 and he died in 1892.

Th title of the poem is the same as the fist few words of the poem and this suggests that it is a continuation from the title, perhaps like a narrative.

“Tears, idle ears, I know not what they mean”, this probably means that his tears have been flowing for so long tat he doesn’t even remember why he is crying. The repetition on tears emphasizes that he was crying a lot. “tears from the depth of some divine despair…”, despair was considered a sin, so ‘divine despair’ is an oxymoron as divine is something good and despair is not. This probably shows that Lord Tennyson; a) Didn’t believe in religion and its teachings or b) he considered despair as something great. He may have used the word divine to show the d=greatness of his despair.

“Rise in the heart and gathers to the eyes,” here, enjambment from the previous line helps in continuing the rhyme scheme as well as the narrative story. He describes his tears as rising in the ‘heart’, which tells us that his tears were genuine and thy were not fake as they came from his heart. He flashes back to the memories of ‘Autumn-Fields’ and laments on them, “thinking of the days that are no more.”.

“Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail..that brings our friends up from the underworld.” This creates imagery of a ‘sail’ first coming into view. This perhaps means that he is hoping his ‘friends’ come back from the dead. These two lines are a contrast as he says that the first beam was fresh, but the people from the underworld will not be fresh as they are buried underground. “Sad as the last which reddens over one…below the verge.” This creates reversed image of the first two lines of the stanza 2, as in the first two lines, it shows how they emerge while in this one it shows how it sinks. This probably shows the cycle of life and the dipping and rising of the sail creates a moving image int he readers mind. He says “sinks with all we love…”, this may probably mean that his love was also buried which shows that his lover also died. The word ‘all’ may suggest that he has lost a lot in life. “So sad, so fresh, the days that are more more…” this probably is a sort of lament and the reader can almost hear the ‘sigh’ in his voice. He says the sad days are still fresh which may mean that it was something recent, but this then contrasts wit the first statement, “Tears, Idle tears…” as this tells us that he has been crying for so long that he forgot what his tears were for but when he says ‘s fresh’, it means that the memory is still fresh in his head and that’s why he’s crying. This suggests that he is subconsciously revisiting the old memories and crying.

The third stanza of the poem is probably showing that last few moments of the dying person; “To dying ears, when unto dying eyes…grows a glimmering square,”. Dying ears and dying eyes suggests that it is the last few moments before death and his/her eyes are slowly closing. This contrasts with “Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns…the earliest pipe of half awakened birds…” as these lines describe the beginning of the day while the next two lines describes the last minutes before death. This may probably mean that the lover died at a young age as just when the world was about to start living, he/she was dying. Lord Tennyson, repeats the last line of the second stanza in the third stanza to re-emphasize.

The last stanza shows regret of loving his lover as he says, “…sweet as those by hopeless fancy feinged, on lips that are for others,” maybe his lover cheated on him and yet the narrator loved him/her and this makes it much more difficult for him. He says his love for his lover was ‘deep as first love’ and ‘wild with all regret’. which suggests that perhaps his lover had hurt him.

The last stanza may perhaps change the perspective of the reader as it might be that the poem was a metaphor for the ‘death of love’, not ‘death of lover’, for the narrator as his lover cheated on him as he says ‘O death in life’ which means that his emotions were dead even though he was alive.

There is no consistent rhyme scheme as it is a blank verse, yet the internal rhyme and the narrative pace of the poem helps give it a rhyme. The tone of the poem is filled with regret and lament, it is slow and steady and this probably means that the narrator is having a flashback to these memories quite often, A lot of descriptive imagery is used to create a picture in the reader’s mind to express the narrator’s despair more vividly.

The poem is written to describe the narrator’s love for his lover and how devastated he is and Lord Tennyson successfully achieves this by using a simplistic yet descriptive way of writing the poem which makes it very easy for the reader to understand and sympathize with the narrator.

 

Aside

A closer look at Rosencrantz’s and Guildenstern’s personalities

Being an existentialist play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, follows the journey of the central two protagonists, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern to their destiny; Death! The play focuses on chance vs. Fate and the decisions made by Rosencrantz & Guildenstern when faced with certain circumstances.

In the opening act, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are described as ‘two Elizabethans’ wearing the same thing – ‘Hats, cloaks, sticks and all’. This shows that they were not anybody special. They are described generally and this might be to enforce the fact that they are ‘two sides’ to the same coin as they look identical yet have complete extreme personalities; ‘Guildenstern’s bag is nearly empty. Rosencrantz’s bag is nearly full.” Guildenstern seems to be a pessimist, ‘Glass is half-empty kind of guy’, while Rosencrantz seems to be the more optimistic one. Stoppard has used duality of meaning by describing their bags as nearly empty and nearly full in order to mirror image their personalities.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are playing a game of coin toss in which Rosencrantz seems to be winning; ‘heads’ ‘Head’ ‘Head’, while Guildenstern even though he doesn’t care about the money is questioning and trying to come up with reasons why the run of heads is recurrent; “A weaker man might be moved to re-examine his faith…in the law of probability.” Guildenstern doesn’t believe in ‘Luck’, “It can be done by luck alone.” “If that’s the word I’m after.” He needs a logical explanation for everything and wants to control everything and this leads to him coming up with weir syllogisms like, ‘…proposition that if six monkeys were…”. Rosencrantz on the other hand is said back and goes with the flow. He doesn’t question ‘why?’ or ‘how?”, “Eighty-five in a row-beaten the record!” These two contracting personalities have a different opinion of everything throughout the play; Guildenstern is more dominant and even though Rosencrantz does have different opinions, he usually does what Guildenstern does.

Guildenstern believes that everything in life is logical and reasonable. “It must be indicative of something”, He tries to come up with explanations for everything by using syllogisms; “One, He had never known anything like it.” Guildenstern always come very close to finding out the truth but at the last minute gets scared and changes the topic; “…Home…what’s the first thing you remember?” Till the very end of the play, Guildenstern tries to control everything around him.

In act 3, he says, “I’m very fond of boats myself…they’re-contained.” He says this because a boat is a measurable enclosed space and so Guildenstern has the power to control everything, but what he can’t control is the big world and everything outside the boat; i.e. the boat is only a small part of the vast universe and no-one except God can control the Universe. So even if all is in order in the boat, you never know what can happen the next minute, as there is a lot of chance and chaos surrounding the boat; “Pirates!” The Pirates arrive and Hamlet is kidnapped by them and that when Guildenstern realizes that he cannot control everything and that is when he truly understands and believes in it; “…our movement is contained within a larger one that carries us along as inexorably as the wind and current…”

Rosencrantz, on the other hand is more than happy to be suspended in time as this means that he doesn’t have to make a decision because when it is time to take action, Rosencrantz is afraid and frightened like a child; “I want to go home”, because usually he is so used to ignoring the truth that when the time comes to take action, he gets confused and afraid as he no longer has the comfort of doing nothing. Rosencrantz is a ‘go with the flow’ kind of person and he does exactly what Guildenstern does, even though he may not like it because he knows that he is incapable of making his decisions himself. At the end of the play, Rosencrantz is completely fed up with the whole concept of life and says that he is “…relieved.”

Guildenstern uses many syllogisms and comes up with many reasons as to why the coins keep landing on heads. He comes up with the craziest examples of ‘monkeys’ and ‘children of Israel’. But he doesn’t want to believe in luck or chance. “Though it can be done by luck alone, if that’s the word I’m after.”

“This is not the first time we have spun coins!”, This line shows that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have been together for so long. They’ve been with each other through ups and downs but this could also have a dual meaning of them being together as they are two sides to the same coin. This is to show the reader that even though they may have different personalities, they belong together as they are two extremes that co-ordinate perfectly with one another, which goes on to prove the theory of opposites attracting, as showed by ‘Ying and Yang’, two opposites, perfectly living in harmony with each other.

Overall, the language used is very informative and has a deeper meaning than just the literal one. It reflects the play as at first glance the play is not understandable, but when you look at the deeper meaning, the play has a beautiful moral, “it is not the destiny that matters, it’s the journey and the chances you are willing to take on that journey.”

Poem Analysis – Amends

The title of the poem is very simple and straightforward which might mean that making amends is a very easy thing to do but also because it stands alone, it means that you have to take the decision yourself and not let others decide for you.

“Nights like this”, the opening line of the poem emphasizes on the point ‘this’ which means that this is a special night (probably a full moon) and not just any normal night.

“On the cold apple bough…out of the bark.”, here these lines that describe the apple tree, reflect the sky at night as it says words like ‘cold’ which could define the night sky as cold, distant and alone. Nonetheless, at the same time, poem says, “a white star…exploding” meaning even in the distant, alone sky there is a star of hope and if you keep looking then there will be more, “then another…”

The poem then starts mentioning the job of the moon; “moonlight picking at small stones”, here, small stones shows that the moon not only amends the bigger the things in life, but also the small things, which we take for granted at times. The poet starts with ‘small stones’ which tells us that we should begin by amending the small things in life before we move onto the bigger things, just like the moon who “…picks at greater stones…”

The moonlight starts with amending all things of nature first, ‘surf’, ‘stones’, ‘ledge’. “Lays its cheek for moments…”, ‘moments’, emphasizes that the moon is very busy and it cannot afford to use more than a few moments and because of this, its movements are very quick, ‘licks’, ‘flicks’, ‘flows’. As the moon starts to move away from nature and towards mankind and man-made objects, its work becomes harder. Now the moon has to use more effort, ‘pours’, instead of ‘flick’, ‘leans’, instead of ‘flows’ and soaks instead of ‘lick’. This is because human mistakes are harder to amend as the human mind is very stubborn and mostly it takes years for man-kind to forgive, forget and move on. “Unavailingly pours into the gash…” it means the moon is very determined to try to heal the gash but is unsuccessful as it is a very deep gash, but the moon has to more on.

“Soaks through cracks…with sleep…”, ‘soaks’ personifies the trailers as a sponge which absorbs the moonlight. “Tremulous with sleep” shows that each trailer is filled as if it’s being washed clean by the moonlight and because of that it seems as if they were quivering. “Dwells”, shows that the moonlight couldn’t just “lay its cheek for moments” as humans needed the most attention and care over a whole night to make amends.

Finally, from the 5th to 15th line, repletion occurs as it confirms the moon is making amends; “as it”, but in the last and final line of the poem, the poet writes, ‘as if”, telling us that every human wishes and fantasizes about the moon (aka someone) solving their problems, but in reality it is they who have to do it. While the moon doesn’t make amends, it motivates them by shining brightly in the dark, cold sky as a glimmer of hope.

The poet uses highly effective descriptive imagery and figurative language by using many describing words and phrases like, “exploding out of the bark” and ‘flicks the broken ledge”. I think she uses that to show that at night there are many beautiful sights to enjoy.

She personifies the moon to make it sound like a loving elderly person (probably a mother) that heals everyone. “Licks the broken ledge”, here ‘licks’ makes it sound like the moon was like a cat, licking its kittens wounds. It creates a very beautiful and caring image in a readers mind.

She also uses a lot of repetition, “as it” to show that it is a pattern and the moon travels ‘round the whole earth while making amends. She uses lots of onomatopoeic words as well to show movement and constancy of the moonlight, Words like ‘licks, ‘flicks’, ‘flows’, ‘rises’, create a sense of fast movement while words like ‘pours’, ‘leans’, ‘soaks’, create a more slow movement. Sibilance is used in line 4, ‘small stones’, to show that making small amends can be very smooth while assonance is used in line 12, “though…the trailers” gives a harder, rougher edge to the stanza because the trailers are manmade.

The rhyme and meter are quiet fast but smooth in the first 2 stanzas as the moon moves at a quick pace there, but when it reaches the last 2 stanzas, it’s more of an effort and that slows the moon down and with it the rhyme and meter as well.

Finally, I think the poet has beautifully compared and contrasted between the amends that are needed to be made by nature and humans, It clearly shows that mankind has to work a lot harder in order to make amends as they have done more harm to nature than nature itself, “…pours into the gash..” while nature only has “the broken ledge…” but instead of criticizing them, she tells them to work for the one ‘exploding white star…” exploding out of the bark and then she tells us that we will find the other automatically.  She also tells us to work first at the smaller things in life and then continue to amend the greater and bigger things.