Charge Of The Light Brigade by Alfred Lord Tennyson and Disabled by Wilfred Owen

Wilfred Owen was born in England in 1893. At the onset of World War One, Owen was teaching in America. In 1915, upon visiting a military hospital, Owen resolved to return to England and enlist in the war. Owen was sent home for shell-shock in 1917. He would return to the front almost a year later, but not before meeting Siegfried Sassoon, a critic of the war who encouraged Owen to write in poetic form the atrocities he had witnessed.

Between the time Owen was sent home and his death fifteen months later, he wrote the most of the poems for which he is now famous. One week before Armistice was declared, Wilfred Owen was killed in a German machine-gun attack. Owen is renown for the realism in his poetry. Owen avoided a bitter or sarcastic approach and never wrote in a cynical tone. His war poems are quite bleak and devoid of hope, in contrast to Tennyson’s poems. Alfred, Lord Tennyson was born on August 5, 1809 in Somersby, Lincolnshire.

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His father, George Clayton Tennyson, a clergyman and rector, suffered from depression and was notoriously absentminded. Alfred began to write poetry at an early age in the style of Lord Byron. After spending four unhappy years in school he was tutored at home. Tennyson then studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he joined the literary club ‘The Apostles’ and met Arthur Hallam, who became his closest friend. Tennyson Viewed war as something that is acceptable and victims of war are wonderful and patriotic people, in contrast to Owen.

The Charge of the Light brigade’ is about the Crimean war, but ‘Disabled’ is about the second World War, these wars differed greatly so taking that into account we see why these two poems have such a different atmosphere, Wilfred Owen’s is dark and depressing, whereas Tennyson’s is much more upbeat. The two poems ‘Charge of the Light brigade’ by Alfred Lord Tennyson and ‘Disabled’ by Wilfred Owen are very different, although they both write about war, they both have different purposes and different messages in their poems.

Tennyson writes about a whole group of soldiers who died unnecessarily , however his message is not to be angry towards the loss of these who did not deserve to die, he says that we must : “Honour the charge they made! Honour the light Brigade, Noble six hundred. ” Tennyson believes that these soldiers were brave and that they wanted to go into this battle. Although people may interpret this differently. Owen had rather a different role to play in his poetry, he was trying to show people what war was really like. He thought that it could do no good and always ended in tragedy. Here is where we see the first major difference in the two poems.

Tennyson’s poem shows us a whole group of soldiers fighting in the war on an instruction given to them, which turned out to be a mistake, he shows us what war was like when it was actually happening, we see the action and feel as if we are part of this war. Whereas Owen focuses on just one man (whose name we don’t know as he represents many others in his position) and the after effects of war. He shows us how this man lost everything because he thought he would impress the girls if he signed up to go to war. Something which these two poems have in common is that the men in both poems suffered greatly for something that was done on a whim.

The techniques that Tennyson and Owen use are quite different, in ‘Disabled’ there seems to be no real rhyming pattern, in the first stanza the first and the third line rhyme and the second and fifth line rhyme, this same pattern is followed in the third stanza, but in the second stanza the pattern is broken, the second and the fourth lines rhyme as do the third and the fifth lines, from the fourth stanza onwards there is no real pattern, this is effective as the poem is meant to be sad as the man’s life now has little structure, we can see this as at the end of the poem he is waiting to go to bed and he says: “Why don’t they come and put him to bed? Why don’t they come? ” this also shows us how he is totally reliant on others In ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ we have the odd rhyming couplet but there is no real rhyming pattern, despite this we still we still get a real sense of rhythm from Tennyson’s poem as it is supposed to build excitement this could be because of some of the rhymes such as: “Flashed all their sabres bare, Flashed as they turned in air”, this gives us an heroic image of war. However neither of these poems need a regular rhyming pattern to show their purpose.

In ‘Disabled’, Owen uses quite a few enjambments in the sentences to create an atmosphere of sadness such as: “How cold and late it is! Why don’t they come and put him to bed? Why don’t they come? “, but Tennyson generally keeps the stanzas flowing to create an atmosphere of excitement with all of the action, however if he does use enjambments, it is to build up suspense. In ‘Disabled’ we do not really hear about the war itself, except for a couple of lines in the third stanza, “poured it down shell-holes till veins ran dry” and “and a leap of purple spurted from his thigh”, these give us graphic images of what war was really like. However in ‘The charge Of The Light Brigade’.

Tennyson uses a lot of images of death and uses vocabulary to make us feel like we were in the middle of the battle fields, such as “Flashed all their sabres bare, flashed as they turned in air” this stanza (five) is very action orientated. So while Tennyson builds up excitement in his poem, Owen uses metaphors and personification to show sadness and loss. Compared to Tennyson’s poem, ‘Disabled’ is a very slow moving poem, with a slow rhythmic beat and the metaphors add to this effect, “when glow lamps budded in the light blue trees” this is also monosyllabic as does personification, “Till gathering sleep had mothered them from him”. Owen uses vocabulary, such as “dark”, “grey” and “shivered” these words shows the isolation of the wounded soldier as they are all harsh sounding words which show how he is all alone.

Owen also uses irony in his poem, “One time he liked a blood smear down his leg, after the matches carried him shoulder high” this is ironic as he now has no leg and his friends carried him shoulder high as a celebration, but when he actually needs help to walk, there is no one there to help him, even despite having achieved alot more, for far greater a loss than a ‘blood- smeared leg’, the crowd’s reception is more hollow. Another effect that Owen uses in his poem is repetition, such as “How could and late it is! Why don’t they come and put him to bed? why don’t they come? ” this repetition empathises how helpless this man is and whereas he used to be a hero, he is now a cripple, who relies on others to help him with the simplest of tasks, such as getting into bed.

In ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ there is a lot of imagery “Half a league onwards, All in the valley of death”, this gives us an image of danger and destruction One thing that the two poems have in common is that the end result is not happy, in ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade” the soldiers died, which concludes the excitement in the poem. In ‘Disabled’ the man did not die but instead had to live with a disability which could be even worse than dieing. Looking at these two poems in detail, I can conclude that I do agree with the comment, “War poetry can celebrate or condemn conflict”, as the poem, ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ certainly celebrates conflict and the poem ‘Disabled’ condemns conflict, so this comment is true for the two particular poems that I have looked at.