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An Examination Of First World War Poetry From British Author Wilfred Owen.

1649 words - 7 pages

"My subject is war and the pity of war. The poetry is in the pity." - Wilfred Owen.Owen wrote his poetry to suit many different purposes. It's speculated that before joining the war he, like many others including Rupert Brooke, wrote propaganda poetry to maybe celebrate the event. However, the purpose of his poetry undergoes a drastic change when faced with reality as portrayed in various poems, and it is for this that he is best known.In October 1917, Wilfred Owen wrote to his mother from Craiglockhart, "Here is a gas poem, done yesterday." Owen himself put his ironically titled poem, Dulce Et Decorum Est into the generic title: 'Indifference at home'. The poetry holds no compassion and so you are not meant to feel for the soldier, but the emotion that does rise from the verses is anger.In my opinion, this anger is directed at the 'old friend', Jessie Pope who wrote propaganda in the guise of poetry. The phrase that he uses, "With such high zest," seems to neatly tie up his attack against Pope's work. The images that he uses create a devastating contrast with the idea that it is glorious to die for you country. He is rallying against the classic idea of duty to your country.I feel that contrary to the earlier quote used above, the intention was not so much to induce the feelings of pity in this case but to shock. I also think that this was directed at those who thought of the war as glorious and altogether beautiful. These things alone would have shocked people who didn't know what was going on, but they were realistic images. Owen was a poet who was influenced by the Georgians, and later the Imagists, and therefore told things as he saw them. His poems don't paint perfect pictures.When stanza one sets the scene, we are presented with the phrase "Blood-shod" throughout the mass of simile and metaphor. People at home would be questioning themselves. Animals tend to be slaughtered. One can only speculate whether the breaking in rhyme is to also help create the atmosphere, reflecting the reality of war and keeping you thinking.In the second stanza, we are focused on one man who couldn't get his gas helmet on in time. Owen uses two word here that clash: "Ecstasy" and "fumbling". In my opinion, he uses this mismatch of words to convey the fear as he has done in other passages. It also gives us an image of what was happening that we could all relate to.The most powerful images are from lines twelve to fourteen. Owen uses verbs such as "Guttering," "choking" and "drowning". These are the sounds of death. People would react to these simple words as the last flickers of life.Owen gives the reader a personal reaction, thereby maybe asking for one in return. The war will never be forgotten, but yet those images haunt people - "before my helpless sight." If only they might experience Owen's own "smothering dreams". Stanza four sees Owen attacking those people at home who uphold the war's continuance, unawareto its realities.At the time of writing this poem,...

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