Wilfred Owen's Ww1 Poetry Essay

2235 words - 9 pages

Wilfred Owen - WW1 Poetry Wilfred Owen, an officer in the 1914-18 war, was driven by two major forces: the love of his fellow fighting men and the need to bring home to the people of Britain the horrific realities of the Great War, (Hibberd ,1986, p109). After meeting Siegfried Sassoon in 1917 at Craiglochart, a psychiatric establishment, Owen's poetry took on a new maturity. While both had enlisted, and both were acknowledged for the courage, their poetry expresses shock & disillusionment with the war. Owen's experience led him to write poetry full of anger and compassion for the suffering and waste of war. Three of Owen's poems Dulce est Decorum Est , Anthem for Lost Youth and Strange Meeting epitomise these concerns. Unlike Sassoon, Owen's poignant poetry was not published until after his death at 25, four days before the Armistice.In June 1917 simultaneous underground explosions left only a few German survivors and another battle began in late July with the Germans re-forming and bringing up reserves. This battle was fought in mud so deep that wounded men fell into shell holes and drowned. For the first time Germans used the blistering burning Mustard Gas which, along with the mud and water, caused persistent casualties long after its release. 245,000 British were lost and the Germans almost double that.(http//www.emory"¦html) First written in 1917, Owen's poem, deals specifically with the effects of mustard gas on a group of fatigued and confused soldiers returning to camp. It seethes with barely contained anger. The title, "it is sweet and glorious to die for one's country" is counter-pointed by "Bent double, like beggars under old sacks" and the soldiers, "Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through the sludge," The second stanza moves away from the structured order of the first; the lines reflecting the confusion and panic of the man who's too slow with his gas mask, ""¦floundering like a man in fire or lime"¦". The poet is the observer, involved and watching appalled; "I saw him drowning "¦ guttering, choking, drowning." (http://library"¦) The final stanza with its images of excruciating pain ""¦ watch the white eyes writhing in his face/ His hanging face "¦ every jolt, the blood / Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs," graphically describes the effects of the gas, condemning the war and awakening the reader's mind to the deaths, "obscene as cancer". Owen was very aware of the ideology of patriotism and honour that pervaded the press, but he saw any wasteful death in the defence of a political ideal, as being without honour. The title and final lines re-enforce this. Dulce est Decorum Est abhors the persuasive power of politicians and echoes Sassoon's drive to change society's attitude to the war.Owen's disgust and horror continues in the church-like, funereal quality of Anthem for Doomed Youth (1917) cynically emphasises the needless death of all the young men of...

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