Pope’s and Owen’s Diverging Views on War in “Who’s for the Game” and “Dulce Et Decorum Est.”

Jessie Pope and Wilfred Owen have both written poems about war, but each poet describes war from a different perspective. While Pope portrays war as a game in her poem, Owen illustrates the harsh realities of war by the use of diction and other poetic devices. Although, Jessie Pope uses rhyme in her poem to create a nursery rhyme style and she uses a positive vocabulary; it is in fact very ignorant of her to trivialize war. On the other hand, Wilfred Owen describes war in a fairly straightforward way, which indeed, makes the poem seem harsh and showcases the truth about war.

In the poem, “Who’s for the game” Pope uses a lot of rhetorical questions, nursery rhyme, and positive vocabulary to produce trust and make the reader feel like a hero or a coward. For instance, when Pope says “who’ll give his country a hand?” it makes the reader sense the duty of helping their country. In the meanwhile, several game references have also been in support of the rhetorical questions. As noticeable, this is not only to make the poem enjoyable but also to make the reader feel glorious if they go to war. “Who’ll grip and tackle the job unafraid?” this is an allusion to Rugby and is followed by the word “job” which represents a certain obligation with a payment, in this case, it would be the pride. In addition “Unafraid” is used and it helps represent heroism. “Who’ll toe the line…” This builds up desperation for going to war in the readers’ mind and showing who is best and who can win this competition of war. Later, juxtaposition is used “Who wants to turn himself in the show? And who wants a seat in the stand” so that the reader conceptualizes himself as a coward, giving an image that if he will be part of the crowd who cheers for actors and not the actor himself. Afterward, an internal rhyme is used “Who would much rather come back with a crutch.” which, in a mature opinion would be saying that “much” and “crutch” symbolize that most hurtful thing that can happen to a soldier is getting a broken leg. For the reader, a realistic poem is more satisfying than a one which is done for propaganda and is full of ignorance. So even if Pope has a fortifying poem, Owen’s poem will still be more likable because of the experience that can be felt in the poem.

“Dulce Et Decorum Est.” Is a poem that is full of pause, metaphors, and similes and is written in a traumatic manner. The line “But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind.” shows the frequent use of caesura and its mix with metaphors. The caesura helps feel the pain of the soldiers, like someone dying a slow death “but limped on” this shows that even if the soldiers cannot walk anymore they have to keep going “blood-shod” with shoes filled with blood “All went lame, all blind” this shows that they are desensitized. This shows the reader that even if the poet is going through emotional trauma, on the outside he can’t feel anything. Later on, another comparison is made “like a devil sick of sin” this creates a sympathetic image in the reader’s mind because it represents that even if the soldiers have not done any sin, they have to go through such dreadful suffering. This poem can completely ruin the image of Pope in the readers’ mind because she was part of the cause for that suffering.

In both the poems, thoughts about war have been represented distinguished way. The pain and suffering of the soldiers in the poem by Owen is portrayed very intensely “But someone was still yelling out and stumbling” leaving Goosebumps readers’ body. It develops hatred against Pope as it creates aural imagery which makes it even more forceful than what it is. Also shows how Pope is cold-hearted because being a woman she didn’t know how it felt to be at war. Moreover, this part of the poem also makes the reader feel afraid because of the visual and sound imagery the poet develops in the readers’ minds. Because of the imagery used by Owen the reader can image him/herself as Owen and feel the need of helping the person drowning. Finally, the trauma Owen went through is mentioned: “He plunges at me, guttering, choking, and drowning.” This helps the reader to feel sympathy towards Owen. Due to the experience used in his poem the reader is engaged and can relate to the poet. This makes the reader feel more attached to Owen than he can ever to Pope.

In the last few lines of “Who’s for the game” Pope uses slang and shows war as a lady. “Come along, lads-” as if she were inviting someone to play a game, which is what Pope is trying to achieve. So, this quote would make the reader think positively about going to war. After a while, Pope personifies the country as a helpless lady, “Your country is up to her neck in a fight” This would be like saying “Your wife is drowning” to a husband, he would care for her and go to the rescue, which is what Pope wants all the young men to do, go to the rescue of their country. This is a very ignorant thing to do for Pope as she does not know what it feels like when a family member goes to war.

However, the last stanza of “Dulce et Decorum est.”, Owen criticizes Pope completely using sarcastic tone, “My friend, you would not tell… The old lie: Dulce et decorum est pro patri mori.” this shows how frustrated Owen feels because of Pope’s ignorance. As a result, the last line of the poem shows Owen’s abhorrence against war is visible. The last lines show how Owen blames Pope to send children to war telling them hideous and disgusting lies. Overall this kind of an end can leave hatred for Pope in the readers’ mind. Wanting them to talk to her about how irresponsible it is to trivialize war to something as simple as a game.

Obviously, both Pope and Owen disagree with each other and defend their points of view. It is noticeable that the reader will be against war after reading Owens poetry. This is because of the applied tone, diction and other poetic devices in the poem. The reader might also think that there was immaturity and a lot of ignorance in considering the kind of rhyme adapted in Pope’s poem. Some readers may also believe that the trivialization of war in Pope’s poetry is offensive. Despite the fact that Pope’s poem is more entertaining than Owen’s. The reader might as well prefer Owen’s poem because of his sincerity in showing and laying out the ear-splitting realities of war.