Both Owen’s and Muller’s poems were written about World War 1 and so the two poems are especially similar in some respects, even though different poets wrote them. There are still a large number of differences between the two poems. Some similarities and differences are naturally easier to spot than others; some only become apparent after extensive study. These differences and similarities occur in style, the way the poems deal with war and it effects as well as many other things. In “The Send-off” by Wilfred Owen the story is told of the soldiers departing on a train for the war.
It depicts the men at the siding shed and on the train, leaving their loved ones and all the things that they have worked for to go and fight on the frontline and probably die. The storyline is the start of what is likely to be the last train journey for the majority of the men on board. As the train departs with the men on board so do we leave them. In “Assault” by Erno Muller the story about a group of World War 1 soldiers is being relayed to us, of how they got caught in a gas attack and how it causes someone to die.
The Send Off Poem Summary
The soldiers then have to get out of the trench and attack the enemy, the story shows the ‘real world’ of war. The tone of “The Send-off” is one that condemns the deaths of those that participated and how far too many men died, “a few, a few, too few [may return]” the fact that Wilfred Owen is saying too few return, means too many die, this then means that is condemning the war and waste of human life. When talking about the departure Owen wrote “So secretly, like wrongs hushed-up”, which talks about how the men being sent off to fight and probably die is wrong, so he is condemning it.
Assault” by Erno Muller also has a condemning tone, there are no outstanding quotes representing this -however the underlying view of the author can be picked up as more of the poem is read. There is also a sarcastic tone although this does not feature in “The Send-off” “Assault” uses it at the end to good effect, “God, this is fun! ” One can get the impression that some see war as ‘fun’ or ‘good’, this poem has sarcasm to show how wrong they are. The voice in “The Send-off” is in a 3rd person perspective.
It is narrated by someone who is there looking at the men and women being affected but is not involved with those there directly, words like “their” and “they” give us this impression. It also sounds like someone who knows a large amount about the occurrences of the war and resents it. It is almost as if it is the soul of a soldier who died fighting in the war and he resents this. “Assault” has a 1st person perspective. It sounds like someone who had experienced it and survived.
Words like “ripped” and “were” show that it was written in the past tense whilst quotes like “God, this is fun” makes it seem as if the narrator experienced the war 1st hand. “The Send-off” has both an angry underlying mood “too few” as if the author is shouting and hollering as if very angry, along with a sad mood. It is sad because the author knows that a lot of the men will soon be dieing. “A few, a few … may creep back”. We get the idea that they have been through terrible suffering (which they had) and that only a few survived (which is also true), this is supposed to and succeeds in saddening the reader. Assault” has a few moods in it, there is an eerie mood at the start of the poem.
“The white cloud swirled round him like a fog”. This gives an eerie atmosphere as death just swirled up around one of the soldiers without him realising. Another mood is sadness “A man choked … caught him unawares. Then his body flopped over”. We are saddened from this as a man suffers a horrible death from gas and he didn’t have a chance to avoid it. “Assault” also has an angry mood in it, the author is angry at the waste of human life, the quote “over the top and kill” shows how all war is, is people to kill.
The two poems have very different forms, “The Send-off” is broken into four stanzas which change in size going small, large, small and large. This breaking up could represent how war is fought in sections. These sections are the different battles that occurred in World War 1. The order of the stanzas and the size of each stanza being regular could be seen to represent how the deaths and occurrences of war were seen as regular. However, looking closer the sentences begin and end at different points, war appears regular but look closer into it and it is not. Assault” only has 2 stanzas, these are of very different lengths, however the lines are organised into groupings.
The different groups of lines represent the different parts of the battle that the soldiers went through, the form of “Assault” is totally un-predictable, much like an enemy’s next move in a battle or war. There are several differences between the rhythms that the two poems use. Erno Muller’s “Assault” has a rhythm that keeps changing. It begins quickly “Gas! Faces turned” straight into the action there is a fast rhythm here as the soldiers try to survive the gas attack.
It slows down in the middle of the poem as the shells are described “and then tired they sank earthwards. ” There is a final boost of speed at the end of the poem “Over the wall! … Over the top and kill”. “The Send-off” however has a very steady rhythm and it is fairly slow. The very regular rhythm “Dull Porters watched them, and a casual tramp Stood staring hard” makes the send-off of men to the front lines seem a regular occurrence (which it was) and therefore that the men’s deaths were also a regular un-important event.
Both poems have a great deal of examples of imagery throughout them. “The Send-off” starts of with lines and words making it feel that the war is being censored, so only some truths come out. This is being done because war is wrong and the government, army etc are trying to keep it quiet. “Darkening lanes” produces imagery of it occurring in the dead of night so that it is not seen by many people and therefore kept quiet. Everyone knew that it was wrong but no-one was trying hard enough to do anything about it, everyone was just keeping quiet “like wrings hushed up”.
The impression of things being censored and kept quiet is given as men “may creep back silent” so only a handful of people knew the truth about the war. “Assault” also has a few examples of things being kept quiet. The masks that ‘hid’ the men from the gas can represent how the government hid (or censored) the truth about the war from the public. Some of these things carried through to the soldiers, “the white cloud” which was actually death, as gas could seem innocent to the inexperienced soldier as a white cloud would seem above suspicion to the uninformed.
There are copious numbers of references to the huge number of men that died throughout as well as all the suffering that a lot of them went through. Erno Muller has included a lot imagery for this, “feverish hands” the men are harmed mentally (scared stiff) just by the thought of the gas attack. The horrible image of “a man choked” as the gas “caught him unawares” over whelmed his defences and took over his body. “Groaning” makes us think of all the men lying on the battlefield groaning in pain.
The men also felt like they were on their own at times, the word “unawares” is the only word on the line, it also is on it’s own. They may also have felt that everything was against them including nature “The wind cut me”. The feeling that everything was against them would have reduced their morale even more. Owen also included no end of imagery within his poem, “lined the train” produces the image of the huge numbers of men that took part in the war as a train can hold a huge number of people.
The men tried to put a brave face on their situation, as they were not that happy about being in a war “faces grimly gay”. There are also a great deal of references to how the deaths became usual as so many men lost their lives, “They got a train” trains run regularly just as the men died regularly, “Dull porters watched them” as it wasn’t unusual for train loads of men to go off, however this also meant that it was usual, mundane and uninteresting that the men died.
Repetition near the end of the poem “A few, a few, too few” gives the impression of things going on and on, either the suffering of the soldiers, the numbers of dead or just how the war went on for a lot longer than everyone was expecting. The women “gave them flowers” before they left, this could be instead of putting flowers on their graves as the men were very likely to die and some of their bodies would never be found.
Words and lines like “our” and “I” in “Assault” make you realise that it was personal, people lost lots of friends and family in the war, a lot of men would have watched their friends die. The two poems have different rhyming patterns, one doesn’t have one. “The Send-off” has a regular rhyming pattern, in the short stanzas it is ABA and in the longer stanzas it is a more complex but still a regular rhyming pattern. The regular rhyming pattern in the poem can represent the regularity of the send off during World War 1 and therefore the regularity of the men dying. Assault” has no particular rhyming pattern.
This could represent how things don’t always happen as they are supposed to. It is, however, still a poem. Things don’t always happen in war as they are supposed to, but it is still a war and waste of human life. Both poems deal with war and its effects in similar ways. They condemn the immense loss of human life. Both authors seem to try to deal with their losses by discussing what occurred. In conclusion, the two poems deal with war and it’s effects in the way that most war poems endeavour to.