There is no single event that evokes more emotion than a war. It has the power to bring together a nation or tear at its very fabric. It has the power to give a nation its standing, as easily as it can take it away. It has the power to move men to acts they thought themselves uncapable of. It gives its participants a view of the world some will never understand. War is an inevitable result of a world diversified in its beliefs. However it is the view of the solider that is often ignored, the labors of war viewed as an honorable thing for a man to go through. Only through writing do we understand the horrors of war that seem to escape the tales of heroism we often hear. Poems such as Dulche at Decorum Est, Grass, and Base Details help us to better understand the plight of the solider.
The poem grass is trying to make a point of the large amounts of people that die in these wars we consider honorable. It opens by mentioning two famous battle sites, Austerlitz and Waterloo. It states ?Shovel them under and let me work– I am the grass; I cover all. Sandburg is trying to make a statement that the grass is acting as the cover up for the blood that was shed there. The grass grows and the lives lost there are forgotten. This point is even more emphasized at the end of this poem in the lines ?Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor: What place is this? Where are we now? I am the grass let me work. What Sandburg is trying to say is that it matters little to the people who are still alive what has happened to these people. Two years, ten years, almost as if time was insignificant because they were so soon forgotten. The people asking the conductor shows the ignorance of people to even remember what happened at these sites. The grass is working by growing and in doing that it covers up the dead bodies that were previously there.
In Base Details you get the perspective of a man who took pride in his duty, and didn?t respect the majors who didn?t go through the daily rigors of war. The poem states if I was a major you would see my puffy petulant face guzzling in the best hotel reading the roll of honour. ?Poor Young Chap.? These lines are attempting to show the heartlessness of the majors who care little about the members of their army and spend their days drinking rather than going through the perils of war. The closing lines ?And when this war is done and youth stone dead, I?d toddle safely home and die in bed.? The solider is directing his anger at how the soldiers will die in the throws of battle while the senior officers will die in the safety of their own bed.
The most detailed and graphic of the three poems is Dulche at Decorum Est. The first four lines describe the state of the soldier?s health as they go through the days. It creates an image of the bent over solider in the line ?bent double, like old beggars under sacks.? The next four lines show the mindset of these men as they got ready for battle. They ?marched asleep? showing their movements were almost robotic and ?drunk with fatigue? a simile comparing the tired state to one of drunken daze, so oblivious to their surroundings the gas shells exploding go unnoticed. The next two lines states ?fitting the clumsy helmets just in time? illustrating how they were not even aware enough to put their helmets on straight. The next three lines describe someone who is being tortured by the pain and is ?drowning under the green sea? is the death of a man he sees. ?In all my dreams before my helpless sight he plunges at me guttering, choking, drowning.? These two lines illustrate the helplessness the soldier?s feel in their attempt to help their fellow brothers. Still haunted in his dreams by these images that filled the battlefield. The next lines tell how they just tossed aside those who died. The author tries to put you in his position and understand the hell that war brings forward and the pain that comes from such a brutal event. He asks the reader if you could see these horrors of war, you would not tell children that it is an honor and duty to die for ones country.
The main purpose of all three poems is to try to make the reader understand the pains of war and how devastating its results can be. It has long been a tradition to glorify the honor of war. While nobody who doesn?t go through the trying times of war can fully understand it. The hardship that it causes for everyone who serves, it only makes it that much more honorable to put your life on the line for your country. It would be hypocritical to enjoy the freedoms of a society and not be willing to defend it. It is these writings the insure that we won?t forget the blood shed on our behalf, the lives lost for our rights. It is important we honor the memories of these men, so their blood wasn?t shed in vain, and we be willing to risk our lives like those who came before us to preserve liberties for those who come after.