Honoring a Call to Duty

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Junior (College 3rd year) ・English ・MLA ・2 Sources

The devastating conditions of war and what soldiers go through in the battlefields cast doubts whether risking someone's life brings honor to one’s country. Some poets have come up with pieces of poems that show the significance of the call to duty and how important it is to a soldier more than anything else. In particular, the poems of To Lucasta and Dulce et Decorum Est are examples of such poems which bring out the nature of the sacrifices a soldier has to go through to respond to the call of duty to the war field. While the first poem is more of a letter to a former loved one explaining the need to go to war as the new lover, the second one illustrates the conditions in the battlefield before reasoning with the reader if it is an honor to serve a nation in the battle field. Therefore, both the two poems talk about the honor of a call to duty through showing the nature of sacrifices, using similar themes, persona, and figures of speech.

Firstly, the two poems use the same themes of war, call of duty, and subject of honor to illustrate the need to respond in time of the call as the biggest sacrifice one can make to the country. Some people can argue that it is an exaggeration of how much one can love the country and that it is a choice of an individual whether to choose the battle fields or contribute in any other way to serving the country. The argument, therefore, suggests that serving in war is not necessarily the biggest sacrifice but just one of them. In the poem of to Lucasta, the poet who is Lovelace discusses the theme of war in a letter to the loved one. The author compares the war to the nature of love he has for the loved one Lucasta. The evidence of this aspect is vivid in line 2-4 in which the poet writes "that from the nunnery…and quiet mind, to war and arms I fly" (Poetry Foundation). In this regard, the author compares the purity of their love to the same force that drives the person to go to war. The reason for the comparison of war and love is that a loved one should not feel bad, or be unkind because the mother partner is serving at war.

The same theme also appears in the poem Dulce et Decorum Est where the poet also describes the devastating effects of war through discussing the scenario of a gaseous poison and the death of the soldier vividly. The message of the war gets clear especially in the last stanza where the persona alienates the presence from the war field to discuss the war and honor of serving the nation. The evidence of the theme is in line 14 where the persona describes "the green sea" that symbolizes the poisonous gas and watching fellow soldiers die helplessly (The War Poetry). In this regard both the poems indicate that the main theme is war and the sacrifice to the nation by the soldiers. The honor of serving one nation is clear in the poem to Lucasta through the use of the phrase "the mistress…the first foe in the field." In line 5-6 (Poetry Foundation). In the other poem, the last stanza describes the blindness of patriotism through describing the deaths of the soldiers in patriotism (The War Poetry). Though not supporting the theme, the persona describes the theme of honor, and the dissent toward it since the sacrifices that go along with it can lead to death. In this regard, both the poems illustrate that the sacrifices and crisis involved include leaving the loved ones in a state of worry about their return safely from the battle field or the endurance of death in the name of honor to the country.

The second aspect is that in both poems the persona is a male and the author of the poem as well who places themselves at the scenes of the happenings to relate more and evoke empathy in the readers to understand the sacrifices of war and honor without judgment. For example, in the poem to Lucasta, the persona is Lovelace who and a male voice through nature he addresses the letter to a loved one who is a female. The evidence of the same is through the use the word mistress and the mistress at war. Probably, the author could be relating to an experience in which in his life experience the wife left him for another man because she thought he was dead. Therefore, losing a loved one while in war demonstrates one of the sacrifices one has to go in the serving nation and Lovelace implores Lucasta (a made up name) not to be unkind because he made that choice to respond to a call of duty. The poet illustrates this right from the beginning in line 1 by saying, "tell me not sweet, I am unkind" (Poetry Foundation).

In the other poem, Wilfred Owen who is also the persona and narrator in the poem also describes the situation poetically to make him present in the battle field and witnesses the gas killing all the soldiers. However, in the last stanza, Wilfred alienates himself from the situation to discuss the blindness of patriotism and the consequences of honor to one's country (The War Poetry). In this regard, the poets place themselves in the situation and use vivid description to evoke empathy to the readers since they relate more to the feelings of the persona. The evidence is in line 7, 8 and 9 through terms such as men marched like sheep, deaf even to their hoots, and someone shouting gas (The War Poetry).

The last aspect is the utilization of figures of speech in both poems to enhance the nature of the sacrifices and makes the reader experience that feeling while reading them. In Wilfred's poem about Dulce et Decorum Est, the poet uses mainly metaphors and similes to bring out this effect and vivid descriptions of the situations at war. For example, the poet compares the soldiers to beggars about their health after the war by using the similes "like old beggars" (The War Poetry). Another simile that he uses to describe the agony of a soldier the persona witnesses dying is the phrase "like a man in fire…" (The War Poetry). The use of the figurative speech is also in many parts throughout the poem in which the author uses them so as to show the state of the battle field and the exact suffering that the soldiers go through until their death. The second device that Wilfred uses includes metaphors. For example, the poet describes the weariness of the troops retreating from the frontline as "Drunk with fatigue" or "deaf to the hoots" among others (The War Poetry). There is clarity that in real life, the fatigue has no ability to get drunk or the hoots have ears hence it can also amount to some perspective of personification to enhance the imagery process through vivid description.

In the second poem, Lovelace uses the figurative speech devices of symbolism and wordplay to describe the significance of the sacrifice and response to honor in the battle field. The poet uses words meant for love addressed to the mistress in describing the affection to the war and weapons such as the swords. In some cases, the poet refers the passion with which he pursues the love of Lucasta to the way they can on their enemy in the battlefield (Poetry Foundation).

Though also signifying presence a metaphor, the symbolism of such words can, therefore, indicate that Lovelace might not be talking about Lucasta at all. Instead, through using her a symbolic instrument, and use of soothing words, the poet is describing the war and the passion towards serving the nation, a love that can only compare to the love of Lucasta and the poet. The use of the words embrace, sweet, dear, adore and stronger faith are evident in line 7, 8, 10, 11, and 1 (Poetry Foundation). The other device is the use of wordplay. For example, the poet uses wordplay using the words "honor" and "love" in line with convincing Lucasta that the love is pure (Poetry Foundation). In some part, the poet even compares the purity of the chest with a nunnery. The poet tells Lucasta that going to war in loving honor does not mean that there is less love to the lover, but it feels the same way just like loving her wholly.

In conclusion, the two poems are significant, and both illustrate the theme of war and the sacrifices of the soldiers in the battlefield. The poems use various figurative speech devices to enhance the message through comparison to natural feelings to evoke an emotional reaction from readers. Lastly, utilization and involvement of the poet as the persona and the narrator makes it have more relation to reading and understanding the underlying message.

Work cited

Poetry Foundation. "To Lucasta, Going To The Wars By Richard Lovelace." Poetry Foundation. N.p., 2017. Web. 20 July 2017.

The War Poetry. "Wilfred Owen - Dulce Et Decorum Est." Warpoetry.co.uk. N.p., 2017. Web. 20 July 2017

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