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Death And Its Many Sides in Poetry Essay


Death: a means to an end and the final moments of one's life as it ceases to exist may come at anytime, for it is unexpected, and usually unwelcoming. Some people may accept it as it comes, and some may reject it, or even feel terrified from the thought of it, but no matter how death is viewed it is ultimately inevitable. In the works Dulce Et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen, I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died by Emily Dickinson, and The Appointment in Samarra by W. Somerset Maugham, death is viewed in three different ways: from a witness, from someone experiencing death, and from Death himself.

In Dulce Et Decorum Est Owen writes about the unexpected terrors of war; the poem is narrated by the poet, Owen, as he describes the horrors of his memories encountering and witnessing death first hand. In the story, Owen describes his view of death negatively in the final portion of the poem writing: If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,-- My friend, you would not tell with such high zest To children ardent for some desperate glory, The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.; Death, in the eyes of the poet, is not so well received (Owen 418). The horrors Owen writes about are obvious statements that he does not think fondly of death; Owen angrily wishes that his reader could be haunted by dreams like his own, to feel drowned and smothered with guilt and horror as he does over the gassed soldier that had been under his command. (Miller).

In Emily Dickinson's I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died, the poet is describing her death as a fly suddenly interrupts her last moments. Unlike the negative tone of Owen's Dulce Et Decorum Est, Dickinson seems to have a more accepting feeling towards death as she writes about it. Dickinson writes I willed my Keepsakes Signed away What portions of me be Assignable as the narrator knows she is dying and is writing her will in acceptance that she is going to die (Dickinson 602). Dickinson describes in detail that eyes are dry, waiting to witness something as yet unseen; like the silence between "Heaves of Storm," eyes and vision are empty, waiting as if to see what comes next; this is another example of acceptance (Zarlengo).

Both similar and different from both Dulce Et Decorum Est and I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died, W. Somerset Maugham's The Appointment in Samarra implements both calamity and fear. In this short story the narrator is death, as he describes the fear and actions of a merchants servant. The feelings of fear felt by the merchants servant are introduced, when the servant has an encounter with death; fearing for his life, the servant flees to Samarra. The ironic calamity comes from the fact that Death himself is narrating the story and does not know the fear of death, because he is death; an example of this calamity is when death says to the merchant That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra (Maugham 7).

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