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Komunyakaa’s “Facing It” and Owen’s “Dulce Et Decorum Est” Poems

An analysis of a poetic work is a great way to appreciate and understand poetry more deeply. Qualitative literary analysis involves considering the author’s use of such elements of poems like speaker, tone, imagery, metaphors, similes, figurative language.This paper aims to discuss two poems – “Facing It” by Yusef Komunyakaa, and “Dulce et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owen considering how the authors used different elements of poems.

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The poem “Facing It” by Yusef Komunyakaa conveys the author’s impressions of War in Vietnam. The poem is written with no rhyme, which is typical for the poet, who was widely recognized for his Copacetic poetry collection, created on the basis of colloquial speech (“Yusef Komunyakaa,” para. 3). The first lines of the verse “My black face fades, hiding inside the black granite” convey the sense of bewilderment at the sight of a stone memorial of events so bright they can not be erased from speaker’s mind. In the next lines “I said I wouldn’t, Dammit: No tears. I’m stone, I’m flesh” the reader can pay attention to the sharp tone, and to the simile between the stone and the flesh. The author transmits the atmosphere of the hopeless flesh, which seems to be stuck in stone.

Further, Komunyakaa uses a romantic simile, saying that his “clouded reflection” meets him like “profile of night slanted against morning.” The speaker then moves across the wall, and enters “the Vietnam Veterans Memorial”, which is the first meaningful denotation, after “the stone”. He tries to find his name “in the letters like smoke”, where “smoke” can be a metaphor for the tears obscuring the author’s eyes. The author again uses powerful imagery, noting that the name of a friend comes before his eyes in the form of “the booby trap’s white flash”. The words flesh and flash are homophones, and complement each other. Next, the speaker uses the figurative language and refers to an unstable present, describing how “Names shimmer on a woman’s blouse” until she walks away. It’s difficult for the speaker to cope with emotions, and he resorts to the memory, finding himself to be a “window” through which the dead look. At the end of the verse, the author again speaks of the dark power of the stone, in which his comrade lost his right hand; the stone symbolizes the war. The verse ends with the image of a boy whose hair is rubber by a woman – a symbol of hope.

In the verse “Dulce et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owen, the author reveals his impressions of the First World War. Wilfred Owen wrote most of his best poems in 1917-1918, since in 1918 he was killed a week before the armistice at the age of 25 (Wilfred Owen, ”para. 1). In the verse, the author depicts a moment of retreat, which is replete with vivid images of tired, battle-exhausted people, trudging “towards our distant rest”, “deaf even to the hoots of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.” The speaker compares the soldiers with the “old beggars under sacks.” Owen uses consonance, as there is a lot of “kh” and “s” sounds. He also applies a rhythm that evokes associations with the march of soldiers. Besides, there is a rhyme – “sacks” – “backs”, “sludge” – “trudge”, “boots” – “hoots”, “blind” – “behind”. Nonetheless, despite the presence of the rhyme, the verse is difficult to read due to the abundance of consonants. The reader seems to be stuck, stopping at every word. This technique allows to convey the feeling of powerlessness and fatigue of retreating soldiers.

Thus, two poems were analyzed, using the basic elements of poems. In the verse “Facing It,” Yusef Komunyakaa creates a unique image of black granite, which “swallowed” and mutilated the names and fates of the people who participated in the war. In the verse “Dulce et Decorum Est,” Wilfred Owen elegantly describes the ‘meat grinder’ of war and its realities, which are so unlike the ephemeral representations of people who have never been to war.

I used the sources and Poetry Foundation, where there is a lot of useful information about the authors, and elements of poems. Besides, on these platforms, one can find many poems and news about poetic gatherings and other events of the poetic world. I used these sources to find information about the life of poets, since knowledge of the author’s biography allows to better understand the messages that are embedded in their works.

Works Cited

  1. “Wilfred Owen.” Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web.
  2. Yusef, n.d. Web.

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