Poetry – comparing two poems


by Wilfred Owen
Our brains ache, in the merciless iced east winds that knive
Wearied we keep awake because the night is silent…
Low, drooping flares confuse our memories of the salient…
Worried by silence, sentries whisper, curious, nervous,
But nothing happens.
Watching, we hear the mad gusts tugging on the wire,
Like twitching agonies of men among its brambles.
Northward, incessantly, the flickering gunnery rumbles,
Far off, like a dull rumour of some other war.
What are we doing here?
The poignant misery of dawn begins to grow…
We only know war lasts, rain soaks, and clouds sag stormy.
Dawn massing in the east her melancholy army
Attacks once more in ranks on shivering ranks of grey,
But nothing happens.
Sudden successive flights of bullets streak the silence.
Less deadly than the air that shudders black with snow,
With sidelong flowing flakes that flock, pause, and renew,
We watch them wandering up and down the wind’s
But nothing happens.
Pale flakes with fingering stealth come feeling for our faces –
We cringe in holes, back on forgotten dreams, and stare,
Deep into grassier ditches. So we drowse, sun-dozed,
Littered with blossoms trickling where the blackbird fusses.
Is it that we are dying?
Slowly our ghosts drag home: glimpsing the sunk fires, glozed
With crusted dark-red jewels; crickets jingle there;
For hours the innocent mice rejoice: the house is theirs;
Shutters and doors, all closed: on us the doors are closed, –
We turn back to our dying.
Since we believe not otherwise can kind fires burn;
Nor ever suns smile true on child, or field, or fruit.
For God’s invincible spring our love is made afraid;
Therefore, not loath, we lie out here; therefore were born,
For love of God seems dying.
Tonight, His frost will fasten on this mud and us,
Shrivelling many hands, puckering foreheads crisp.
The burying party, picks and shovels in the shaking grasp,
Pause over half-known faces. All their eyes are ice,
But nothing happens.

What to include Textual reference/ quotations to include Notes
Introduction Poem about horrors of war – direct and hard hitting. Surprising as it’s about waiting and effects of cold, not fighting itself. Title can be read in different ways – exposure to cold, to terrifying war situation for soldiers or exposing truth to people at home. Keep it short, show overall understanding and direction of essay. Owen is showing horror of war not glory.
Paragraph one Content and detail – mention of cold, feelings of men, how all hope has left them, they feel they are dying. eg ‘merciless iced east winds’, ‘mad gusts’, ‘nervous’, ‘is it that we are dying?’ Focusing on content of poem shows overall understanding of poem’s message.
Paragraph two Strong, insistent language throughout. eg repetition of ‘But nothing happens’ and ‘dying’. Negative language – ‘agonies’, ‘melancholy’, ‘cringe’. Focus on specific powerful language and overall effect.
Paragraph three Use of figurative language to convey horrors, use of different senses. eg similes ‘like twitching agonies’, ‘like a dull rumour’. Link to effect, eg similes convey horror – helps reader to feel this.
Paragraph four Structure and rhyme/sounds. eg regular stanzas and repetition, hard-hitting monosyllables, short final lines in each stanza. Link structure to effect – reality of war is stark and unrelenting.
Conclusion Many realities of war shown, some are surprising – nothing happens but still mem feel they are dying. May not need more references in conclusion. Refer back to key words in question – realities of war. Shows understanding of the poem and of it being hard-hitting.

The Destruction of Sennacherib

by Lord Byron
The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.
Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay wither’d and strown.
For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he pass’d;
And the eyes of the sleepers wax’d deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!
And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there roll’d not the breath of his pride:
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.
And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow and the rust on his mail;
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.
And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower

Dylan Thomas1914 – 1953

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.

The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman’s lime.

The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover’s tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.