"a text is the reflection of the context within which it is written"
All texts are influenced by the time and place in which they are produced. This is clearly seen in the two famous war poems, Wilfred Owen's "Dulce et decorum est." and Kenneth Slessor's "Beach burial". While Owen’s poem conveys the harsh reality of trench warfare during WWI, Slessor’s poem focuses on the tragic loss of lives after a WWII battle. They also both share similar themes: Owen presents a powerful condemnation of war, while Slessor criticizes the unnecessary loss of human lives. As a result, both poets offer their own opinions on the war, while reflecting and criticising the values and attitudes of their time period.
In 1914, during WWI, Owen shows what life for soldiers was like in “Dulce et decorum est." The imagery he uses in “men marched asleep" creates the image of soldiers that have no rest at all, causing the reader to feel sympathy for them. The oxymoron of “marched” and “asleep” conveys an ironic tone. The parallel ‘All went lame, all blind’, is used to show that everyone involved in war cannot escape it’s implications, resulting in severe physical injuries if not death. Here Owen highlights the consequences of war on humanity.
Vivid imagery in “He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning" evokes the image of a soldier that is in the throes of death. The emotive verbs arouse the terror and horror of soldiers suffering from a mustard gas attack. This is reinforce in the quote 'Gas! Gas! Quick boys!' which highlights the urgency of rapidly putting gas masks on to save their lives.
The poem conveys to readers the conditions of life for a soldier in the trenches, evoking a sense of pity for their suffering while condemning the horrible effects of war. This reflects Owens' dissaproval of the war which echoes with anti-war sentiments stirring in his own society as more young solders are sent off to war to die in vain.
In stanza four, ‘Some desperate glory’...