Analysing War On Wilfred Owen Essay, Research Paper
Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) is the greatest of the lost poets of World War I. He thought the war was a totally ridiculous activity with disastrous and tragic results. He has mentioned that in poems like Dulce et Decorum Est, Anthem for Doomed Youth and Disabled. In Wilfred Owen’s introductory remarks to his poems, he expresses “Above all, I am not concerned with poetry. My subject is war and the pity of war”. Basically Wilfred Owen is trying to express his feelings in his poems.
A few times in his poems, (e.g. Disabled and Anthem of Doomed Youth), Wilfred Owen had told us that many youths had been wasted. In these two poems, the opening lines show outrage and are straight to the point, showing the outcome of war, i.e. “He sat in a wheel chair, waiting for dark”, “What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?” Owen is trying to prove straight away that war has a bad effect on people’s lives, especially the ones who are on their youth years. It has also noted a few times in Wilfred Owen’s poems that soldiers were treated with no respect, instead as people of no importance. Maybe, due to this reason people find war a very frustrating event in one way, (due the never ending days of military service), while a very sad event because of departure from friends and families, whom they shall never see again. In the poem “Anthem for Doomed Youth”, the theme is about comparison between a battlefield and a church, e.g. “Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs-The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells”. In the second stanza, Owens tells us that the result of war could be death. Again, when he says that, he uses the comparison of a battlefield and a church. The use of rhythm makes it easier to understand what Wilfred Owen is comparing. Alliteration is used to give the poem a very hard sound that gets to you, e.g. “rifles’ rapid rattle”. Wilfred Owen has also used onomatopoeia, (e.g. “patter”), personification, (e.g. “monstrous anger of the guns”) and simile, (e.g. “What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?”) to emphasise his points throughout the poem.
Disabled is one of these poems, in which Owen describes the loneliness and the suffering of a young soldier. In the first stanza, Owen drew a picture of a disabled young man who is sitting on a wheelchair in a hospital. He sits there and absorbs the loneliness and pain as he listens to the outside world. The sound of the substances bring him back to the memories of old times, when he was still young and attractive, and girls were crazy for him. Now that the war is over, he no longer has hands to feel how slim and warm the waists and hands of a girl are. He is now older and handicapped. War had left the purple scars that never faded on his body. One might wonder, “What is the reason for this young man to join the armed forces?” Owen gave a very simple answer to this question. The young man, who was a good football player, entered the army because someone had said he looked good in an army uniform. And most of all it was because he wanted to please his girlfriend, Meg, despite the fact he didn’t know or have any ideas of who the enemy was. He had no fear even in the face of death. The only thing that he cared for was how to make his appearance more attractive, how to make a smart salute, when and what to do on his leave and pay days. That was because he was too young, not even nineteen, when he enlisted. As a result of a few years of fighting he became older and disabled as Owen noticed. “Now, he is old, his back will never brace.” Returning home, he thought there would have be a big crowd with drums and cheers waiting for him, but ironically the cheers he had for his big sacrifices were even less than the cheers of a football game. Only a solemn man came to him to give him fruits and thanked him. As a handicap, the young man felt depressed and useless, for the only thing he could do was to sit in a wheelchair and take pity from other people. It was so painful that he gave out a cry “Why don’t they come?” The question was a closer of the poem in which the young man felt extremely painful and upset as no one came to take care of him. The subject “they” in the previous question represented his nurse, his football fans and his women. All of them came to him when he was still a young handsome boy and a number one football player, now after what he sacrificed (his health, his leg, and his youth) for them they ran away from him.
“Inspection”, a rather different type of poem Wilfred Owen created. Inspection informs us about the army life and the ranks. The purpose of making such a poem was because Wilfred Owen wanted to show how outrageous and ridiculous the rules of the army were. The poem is set in an army trench, when Owen was an officer. There are three people involved in the poem, i.e. the officer (Owen himself), a sergeant and a recruit. The attitudes of the army are so foolish, Owen bellows at the recruit for being “dirty on parade”, just because the recruit has cut himself on the cheek. How silly! Wilfred Owen has used the language according to the social class, e.g. officer “You dare come on parade like this?”, sergeant “‘Old yer mouth”, recruit “Please, sir, it’s–”. I don’t think this it’s very fair that soldiers are used as cannon fodder (no respect) , taking in note that they may be asked to sacrifice their lives, e.g. “Young blood’s its great objection”. Owen makes this plain by showing us the bitterness of the recruit, e.g. ironic laughter “he laughed, looking away”. The recruit does mention in the poem that they are used as if no importance, where is serious. In the poem, as well as using a lot of different language according to each rank, Owen has used a repetition (”Blood”) four times. Wilfred is simply repeating the word deliberately by trying to suggest violence and death, e.g. “Blood’s dirt”, showing a contempt for life.
“Dulce et Decorum Est”. The theme of this poem is about a gas attack. Owen’s purpose of this poem is to really emphasise how disgusting and bad the seen was. Owen also tells us dying for your country is not sweet and honourable. He describes the scenes in the poem as “humanity taken away”. In the first stanza the soldiers are exhausted, tired and worn out. They can’t physically go on fighting, e.g. “beggars”, “knock-kneed”, “coughing”, etc. The second stanza’s mood is fast where everyone is in a panic due to a gas attack, e.g. “Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!”, etc. Everyone tries to fit on his or her gas mask instantly. In the last sentence of the stanza Owen talks about a soldier who failed to avoid the gas attack, e.g. “As under a green sea, I saw him drowning”. The third stanza is quite short and talks about the experience of not being able to help a person in need. However, in the last stanza the mood is angry, where Owen really wants to show the disgust, e.g. “If in some smothering dreams”, “Hanging face”, “like a devil’s sin”, etc. He also quotes that dying for your country is not sweet, instead a horror, “The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est”, “Pro patria mori”. Owen shows that people are being used, in the poem, by telling us the army casualties have not been treated efficiently. Wilfred Owen, referring to the poem, tells us that the effect of a gas raid is devastating, where the victim chokes to death, e.g. “He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning”. The imagery of the poem is already mentioned, dying for your country is not sweet and honourable, e.g. “The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est”, “Pro patria mori”.
Wilfred Owen has expressed his feelings towards war in his poems. He tells us that it needn’t have happened. Owen quotes “Above all, I am not concerned with poetry. My subject is war and the pity of war.” According to the poems I have studied, I think Wilfred Owen has been successful in proving his point, due to the help of many poetic devices, e.g. alliteration, simile, personification, etc. In my opinion “Dulce et Decorum est”, “Anthem for Doomed Youth” and “Disabled” are Wilfred Owen’s most effective poems. This is because he has used high amount of poetic device, as mentioned above. Another reason for these poems being my most effective is due to the feeling it gives us, the poems have a good meaning which will make us look back to the poem and think again. Wilfred Owen is truly one of the great poets of World War I.