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Poetic Techniques Of Wilfred Owen Essay

1538 words - 6 pages

Wilfred Owen can be considered as one of the finest war poets of all times. His war poems, a collection of works composed between January 1917, when he was first sent to the Western Front, and November 1918, when he was killed in action, use a variety of poetic techniques to allow the reader to empathise with his world, situation, emotions and thoughts. The sonnet form, para-rhymes, ironic titles, voice, and various imagery used by Owen grasp the prominent central idea of the complete futility of war as well as explore underlying themes such as the massive waste of young lives, the horrors of war, the hopelessness of war and the loss of religion. These can be seen in the three poems, ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’, ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ and ‘The Last Laugh’, in which this essay will look into.

The sonnet form is commonly adopted by Owen to tersely present his numerous ideas and to evoke contemplation. The elegy, ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’, is written as a basic Shakespearean sonnet to mourn for the enormous loss of young soldiers from two distinct angles, the improper burials they obtained and the remembrance they deserve. The first two stanzas of ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ also adopt the sonnet form to explore two varying aspects of torment within war, the terrible conditions faced by all the men on a day-to-day basis and the sickening suffering of one particular youth. Owen uses this possible intertwining of contrasting thoughts within sonnets to emphasise that in every generation, there will always be different views with regard to the war. However, it is of key significance that the millions who died and suffered in this futility will be forever remembered. Their inconceivable experiences and horrifying statistics must be taken into serious account before ever reconsidering battle. Owen’s use of sonnets encourages deeper thought and reflection towards the intentions of war.

Para-rhymes, in Owen’s poetry, generate a sense of incompleteness while creating a pessimistic, gloomy effect to give an impression of sombreness. Strong rhyming schemes are often interrupted unexpectedly with a para-rhyme to incorporate doubt to every aspect of this Great War. Who are the real villains and why are hundreds of thousands of lives being wasted in a war with no meaning? In ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’, the consistent sonnet rhyming scheme is disturbed by a half rhyme, “guns … orisons”, to show how the soldiers all died alone with only the weapons that killed them by their side, and a visual rhyme, “all … pall” to indicate that the reality of war is entirely the opposite to what it seems - no glory, no joy and no heroism, but only death and destruction. Owen occasionally works with this technique in a reverse approach to create similar thought. For instance, the assonance, consonance and half rhyme based poem, ‘The Last Laugh’, contains an unforeseen full rhyme, “moaned … groaned”, to emphasise that nothing is ever fixed in war except the ghastly fact that...

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