World War I Poetry With Emphasis On Wilfred Owens

1275 words - 6 pages

World War I spanned four years, from June 1914 to June 1918. During this war, technological advances increased the danger for the soldiers who took part in battle. Poison gas and trench warfare transformed World War I into a cesspool of sickness and death. Poetry during World War I provided a way to connect people back home with the horrific lifestyle soldiers had to face on a daily basis. Poets such as Wilfred Owens used vivid imagery, dire diction, and other literary devices to depict the grueling tasks of warfare.
World War I, otherwise known as the Great War, began on June 28th, 1914, when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, Bosnia. This began a four year war that took the lives of thirty-seven million people. The biggest difference from this war compared to others, was the development of trench warfare and the development of chemical warfare.
Trench warfare consisted series of two or more trench lines running parallel to each other and being at least 1 mile in depth. Each trench was dug in a zigzag formation so that no enemy could fire for more than a few yards down its length. Each of the main lines of trenches was connected to each other and to the rear by a series of communications trenches that were dug roughly perpendicular to them. Food, ammunition, fresh troops, mail, and orders were delivered through these trenches. The intricate network of trenches contained command posts, forward supply dumps, first-aid stations, kitchens, and latrines. Most importantly, it had machine-gun emplacements to defend against an assault, and it had dugouts deep enough to shelter large numbers of defending troops during an enemy bombardment (“Trench Warfare”). On average, the British lost 7,000 men daily due to trench warfare. One young woman who joined the French Red Cross said this about the trenches: “During the last week we have averaged 25 operations daily. But the struggle, and the sense that one is saving bits from the wreckage, doesn’t give one a chance to be mastered by the unutterable woe” (Gay).
Chemical warfare was developed by German scientist in 1914, but was not deemed chivalrous until January 1915. . The Germans launched the first major poison gas attack near Ypres on April 22, 1915. French colonial troops were the victims. Two days later another gas attack hit Canadian troops who had just entered the trenches. On both occasions the Germans inflicted thousands of casualties and penetrated enemy lines but failed to achieve the hoped-for decisive results. Much the same pattern would follow as the war progressed. Following the initial German example, both sides used increasingly treacherous varieties of poison gas and perfected methods of delivery (Lengel 18). The use of poison gas claimed the lives of 500,000 to 650,000 people. One man who served for the British Expeditionary Force described poison gas as, “a crawling yellow cloud that pours in upon you, that gets you by the throat and shakes you as a huge mastiff might...

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