Wilfred Owen's Poetry Essay

1933 words - 8 pages

Wilfred Owen's Poetry

In this essay, I have decided to analyse two poems by the war poet
Wilfred Owen, taken from his writings on the First World War. Both of
these poems ('Dulce et Decorum Est' and 'Anthem for Doomed Youth')
portray Owen's bitter angst towards the war, but do so in very
different ways.

Owen developed many of his poetic techniques at Craiglockhart Military
Hospital, where he spent much of the war as an injured soldier, but it
was only through the influence of fellow soldier and poet, Siegrfried
Sassoon, that he began capturing his vivid visions of the war in the
form of poetry. Many would argue that it was while writing his war
poems, that Owen felt most able to express his ideas on paper, and he
certainly was one of the greatest war poets to have ever lived.
Arguably his most famous poem, 'Dulce et Decorum Est', is a fine
example of his narrative, first-person poems, written through his own
eyes and based on his own experiences and views of the war. Using four
clear stanzas, the poem uses standard, alternate rhyming lines. A
slow, painstaking rhythm is established at the beginning of the poem
through Owen's use of heavy, long words and end-stop lines, in order
to illustrate just how slow and painstaking the war was. The pace then
quickens during the final stanza (a rhythm achieved by the use of
lines with fewer syllables and run-on endings), so that it contrasts
with Owen's poignant conclusion given in the last four lines, drawing
our attention to this particular point, the whole meaning of the poem
as far as the poet is concerned.

"If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Bitter as the cud."

In contrast, the second of Owen's poems, 'Anthem for Doomed Youth',
can be easily distinguished from many of his other works, as it is,
infact, a sonnet. Like all sonnets, this one has fourteen lines,
divided up into two movements, with an initial, alternate line rhyme
scheme used, changing to a more unusual sextet in the final movement.
In this movement, the first and fourth lines rhyme, as do the second
and third, and it ends on a couplet. This poem, unlike 'Dulce et
Decorum Est', starts off at a quicker pace, then continues to
decelerate throughout the poem, drawing to a slow sombre close;
another, equally effective way to really drive home Owen's point to
the poem in the final few lines. The slowing down of the rhythm is
aided by syllabic variation along the lines, before settling on a
steady, ten per line for the last couple of lines.

But these technical formats alone did not make Owen's war poems as
believable and empathetic as they actually are. To express his views
and notions, he could escape from the frowning public who disagreed
with his controversial stance on the war, and put them on paper. And
it is perhaps this real hatred towards the war that he felt, and the
real belief that he was right, that spurred Owen into some of...

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