Glorification and futility of war in Eve of Waterloo and Dulce et Decorum Est

QuestionsGlorification and futility of war in Eve of Waterloo and Dulce et Decorum Est
Anwesha Sen asked 7 years ago

Write a critical appreciation of the poems The Eve of Waterloo by Lord Byron and Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen with reference to romanticism of war, its glorification and futility.

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Staff answered 7 years ago

Though ‘The Eve of Waterloo’ and ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ — both the poems show the futility of war, the former is more concerned with the fickleness of life in general, the latter is an anti-war poem in its strict meaning.

The poem “The Eve of Waterloo” highlights how laughter, love and chivalry turn into tears and sighs and bravery in battle is reduced to a handful of dust. The night began with love and romance where the ‘sound of revelry’ was overwhelming the ballrooms of Lady Charlotte the night before the battle in Brussels. But it ended in mourning, tear and sighs. The poem expresses the disillusionment felt by the generation weary of the wars of post-Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras. At the same time, it harps on the constant juxtaposition of a real, tangible, material human life and its fickle-nature. The last stanza of the poem comments on how events changed quickly from the last noon to the morning. The picture of earth’s clay covering the dead bodies of the soldiers is heart-rending. The poem is full of excitement and pathos.

On the other hand, ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ is a fierce protest against the warmonger’s propaganda of romanticising war and calling it an act of bravery, heroism and patriotism. The title of the poem is satiric and a manifestation of the disgust and bitterness the narrator holds for the warmongers. The popular Latin phrase at that time “Dulce et Decorum est Pro patria mori” (It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.) was originally a part of the Roman Poet Horace’s Ode 3.2. Owen ends the poem with these lines to accentuate the fact that participation in war may not at all be decorous. He was simply unable to justify the sufferings of war. The outbreaks of influenza, or living in trenches with rats for days didn’t seem justifiable. The loss of so many lives, soldiers living in worst conditions, blocking each other’s food supplies didn’t support a humane environment.

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