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Wilfred Owen Poetry Analysis

916 words - 4 pages

Wilfred Owens' poetry on war can be described as a passionate expression of Owen's outrage over the horrors of war and pity for the young soldiers sacrificed in it. His poetry is dramatic and memorable, whether describing shame and sorrow, such as in 'The Last Laugh', or his description of the unseen psychological consequences of war detailed in 'The Next War' and 'Anthem for Doomed Youth'. His diverse use of instantly understandable technique is what makes him the most memorable of the war poets. His poetry evokes more than simple disgust and sympathy from the reader; issues previously unconsidered are brought to our attention.The conscription of young men to battle during WWI was typically celebrated. Committed soldiers were glorified as heroes of the national cause. In Britain, churchmen justified such human sacrifice in the name of war, by claiming God was on Britain's side. Religious services and anthems were sung, praising the patriotic departure of troops even though it culminated in great human loss. Owen's poem, 'Anthem for Doomed Youth', criticises Britain's actions and their ignorant exaltation of them. Owen ironically undermines the concept of an anthem by emphasising that there is nothing to celebrate but 'Doomed Youth'. This refers to the young men having their lives brutally cut short. Owen establishes the theme of his sonnet with the rhetorical question "What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?" This refers to the inhumane slaughter of soldiers, shifting the audience's vision of an honourable and pride-worthy death to the unprecedented and shameful mass killings of the Great War. Throughout the poem, Owen juxtaposes the musical quality of an anthem with the harsh sounds of war. This concept is first raised at the end of the first quatrain with the noisy onomatopoeia of the "rifles' rapid rattle". The use of the adjective 'rapid' and the assonance on 'a' quickens the pace and indicates the fashion in which the dead are buried in war.Similarly to the aforementioned poem, 'The Next War' is a sarcastic poem presenting a soldier's fatalistic recognition that in battle, death is his 'chum'. This poem was written at the same time as 'Anthem For Doomed Youth', allowing it a different approach on a common idea. In the poem, Owen personifies death as to relate it the men, and their acceptance and ability to tolerate its rude behaviour. In the octave of the sonnet, Owen takes the audience to the Western Front, 'Out there', and describes the strange behaviour which their extraordinary situation excites: 'we walked quite friendly up to death.' Owen shows how the confining circumstances of battle overturn the ordinary conviction of life. This is depicted differently that of 'Anthem For Doomed Youth'. The audience is not...

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