Attitude Of World War I Poets Towards War

1753 words - 7 pages

It is interesting when discussing WW1 poetry to examine how attitudes to war at the time may have influenced the poets. Before WW1 war was generally viewed as a positive thing. Many young men followed a career in the army and saw it as something of an adventure. The horrors of WW1 changed many people’s attitudes to war, the mechanisation of warfare led to millions of casualties and this resulted into a general realisation that war wasn’t a glorious adventure. Many soldiers wrote powerful poems about the reality of war as they wanted the truth to be known. Wilfred Owen was one of these and one of his poems I’m going to discus is ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’. Nevertheless there were some pro-war poems such as Fall In.
The first poem I am going to discuss is by Wilfred Owen. Wilfred Owen was a young man who voluntarily joined the army. He went to war thinking it was an adventure but his views dramatically changed over the course of the war. His views are shown trough many dramatic and tragic poems. He suddenly passed away on the 4th of November 1918, but his legacy still continues to have profound effects on literature.
‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ (meaning sweet and proper) is Owen’s most famous poem and one of the most searing war poems ever written. It is a poem about a gas attack that was witnessed by Wilfred Owen, where one of his men suffered an agonising death. Owen wrote this poem to show his contempt for the propaganda lies that said war was a glorious and heroic event.
In the first stanza of ‘D.E.D.E’, Owen paints a picture of exhausted and ill soldiers returning to their trenches. He uses similes such as “coughing like hags,” and “We cursed through sludge,” The first quote is a good simile because it describes the poor physical conditions these men had when they were supposed to be in the their physical prime. The second quote also explains the damp and muddy conditions that these men had to endure while in the trenches.
The second stanza describes the aftermath of a gas shell bombardment that hit Owen’s trench and it conveys an image of one of Owen’s men drowning in the depths of the gas. He used the simile “As under green sea, I saw him drown,” he also used direct speech such as “Gas! Gas! Quick, Boys!” The simile Owen used is very powerful because it is a very good description of what actually happened to the man and that Owen could not help him. This causes despair amongst the comrades of the soldier because they want to save him but they cannot. The second quote is poignant because it transports the reader to the horrors of the trenches, thus making it an authentic experience.

The third stanza is mostly about the dreadful experience Owen endures in his dreams and that he is emotionally scared. “In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, he plunges at me guttering, choking, drowning,” this tells me of the recurrent nightmares endured by the writer caught up in the horrors of war. It also tells me that Owen had changed when he went to...

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