How Winfred Owen uses Poetic techniques to convey the horror of War
Wilfred Owen’s poems are saturated with the horrors of war. By use of a range of poetic techniques, Owen is able to convey the horror of war. These techniques enable him to put forward his war scenes in not only a horrific but also a memorable manner. This is because of the disturbing themes and images brought about by Owen‘s poems that that stays in the mind of the readers for a long time after reading the poem. Winfred Owens’ Objective is to illustrate the horrors of war and not merely creating poetry. The main aim of this essay is to analyze Owen Winfred’s two of his well known Poems, ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ and ‘Disabled’ and how they convey horror of war by use of use poetic techniques.
In the poem ‘Disabled’ Owen conveys the really tragedy of war effectively. Many people in the contemporary generation commonly think of the tragedy of war as only affecting those killed during war. It is common for many people of the current generation to think only of those killed during the war. Nevertheless, Winfred Owen skillfully uses language techniques to make the reader to remember that apart from the people killed in war, the survivors could have suffered brutally. For example, Owen lays his focus on a young man who is harmed because he is “legless, sewn short at elbow” after returning from war.
Winfred Owen writes the poem with great technique to pass his message. For instance, he uses the contrasting memories of the recruits as well as his new views to create the recruits contrasting memories and new views to create the true feelings of the victims. Some examples are these quotes from the poem, “He thought be better join in” – he wonders why. “Voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn”, “About this time town used to swing so gay”
Through the poem “Disabled” Winfred Owen is able to effectively illustrate how the lifestyle of a soldier changes dramatically. The soldier was once was once a great athlete, well-liked by young women but now he is destined to be on a wheelchair. His former lovers “they touch him like a queer disease”, and he sadly watches how “their eyes pass from him to the strong men that were whole”. The society no longer sees him as a normal person. Winfred gives an example where an artist who once wanted to paint him but “Now he is old, his back will never brace; he’s lost his color very far from home”.
In the poem ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ the technique employed by Wilfred Owen convey the horror of war is that of imagery through which he uses vivid descriptions and a strong language. Owen uses the imagery in “Dulce Et decorum Est” where he once again uses vivid and descriptive language such as when talking about the face of a soldier affected by toxic chemical agents that were used by the Germans in the war. “And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin.” In these lines, Winfred manages to implant the various graphic languages.
In his poem, ‘Ducle ET Decorum Est’, he uses a simile “coughing like hags” to express the pain the soldiers faced in stanza. In line 1a simile is also used to compare soldiers marching to beggars, “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks”. “Double” illustrates that the soldiers present two images of people; one reflecting on the other; one before the war and the other what they look like now. More similes in line two “knocked-knees, coughing like hugs”
Imagery used in line 19 is horrendous “And watch the white eyes writhing in his face”. One may imagine that the eyes were alive of their own, the horror of eyes being presented as though they are almost detaching from their own body. Imagery in line 21 ‘gargling blood” and “incurable sores “used is also illustrates the body of the soldiers as it is breaking down entirely.
Owen uses punctuation “Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!” in line 9 to shows the immediacy and urgency of a reaction or response during the gas attack and the seriousness of the gas attack is also illustrated by a “green sea” metaphor referring to the mist of the gas “I saw him drowning” which led to “froth corrupted lungs”.
Present a close analysis of the poem’s subject matter
Owen’s main theme is about war. There is a never ending nightmare of unexpected attacks and muddy trenches. With the new fangled World War I technology, there need not be a real enemy to start a devastating destruction of the ‘enemy.’ For example, Dulce et Decorum Est, which is set in the middle of a gas attack explores the intense agony of a warlord suddenly insane as well as the unfortunate men who struggle in it. The poem, Dulce et Decorum Est, asks, “how can anyone condone so much suffering?”
This is a recurring theme in Owen’s war poetry. According to Owen, the strength of war can bring spiritual revelation or futility. Owen’s poems seem to question the authority of God. More often than not, Owen seems to disregard God and he has a more pagan view of nature and life. He addresses religionin most of the poetry above.
Notion of Unseen Scars
The notion of unseen scars is also a habitual theme in Owen’s war poetry. He puts a lot of focus on how, although a soldier may return home from war either alive or even injured, he/she will never be physically the same either mentally or physically prior to the war. In the poem disabled, he vividly describes a soldier’s pain is not his but through the people reacting through his situation. because of this, the soldier will never experience life to the fullest ever again.
There is also the theme of death this time, “Death had not missed.”The poem starts from a death soldier whom his colleagues believe that he might wake up if they put him at the sun. The persona says that it is the kind old sun that knows whether he will resurrect or not. In the poem “Mental Cases” in an allusion from Macbeth emphasizes the mass death witnessed by these men. He uses alliteration in Line 2 and 3 in which the speaker invites the reader to share the horror they are witnessing.
The “Mental Cases” poem, the simile teeth that leer like skull’s teeth wicked?” connect the dead and the living. Also, in the allusion from Macbeth, death is emphasized for the men have witnessed by force “Multitudinous murders” which is actualized by death when war is related directly to murders, as illustrated both in line 2 and 3.
The sun is given human characteristics of being able to touch the dead soldier and arouse him from sleep. The sun is also characterized as being able to whisper to the man. The persona is again referring to the sun being kind when he says, ‘The kind old sun will know ‘, first stanza the last line.
There is use of half- rhyme “sun/unsown” “once/France” “star/stir” which the poet uses to create the sense that the soldiers had become frustrated and despaired. The “sun”, for example, is expected to rhyme with a word such as “fun” but we get the word “unsown”. However, in the entire poem “Dulce Et Decorum Est”, there is rhyme in all stanzas, for instance, in stanza one, “sacks/backs”, “sludge/trudge”, “boots/hoots”. The rhyme also implies that the soldiers were consistently dismayed due to frustrations.
Winfred questions the “sun” why it should bring about life if it has no power to prevent death. He emphasizes the pointlessness of war due to the inability of the greatest being ‘sun” allows its subjects to enter into war but is short of the ability to save them “O what made fatuous sunbeams toil / to break earth’s sleep at all. The rhetoric questions in the poem “Disabled” “And put him into bed? Why don’t they come?” Refers to the final declaration implying “Disabled”
This is where the poet uses phrases with additional meaning for example in the poem; ‘Futility’ the phrase, ‘whispering of fields unsown’ refers to the life not lived.
(Poems by Winfred Owen, n.d.).
Describe how the poem is representative of the sentiments and the style of Owen’s poetry in general.
Transcript of a speech for an HSC Study Day
Futility means uselessness. Life is useless, valueless and baseless. You would have wished to be alive in the middle of World War I but death would have been your best friend at the time. Young men yearned to go to war, for the perceived privileges, probably some form of exploration, adventurer or some gifts and money, but soon or later, they cried loud for their “mama”. Death by the bullet or explosion caught a friend in combat leading to sudden death but the rest had to move on. The bodies had become tattered, the ears were filled with gunshots and explosions, eyes witnessed numerous either “sleeping death bodies” probably waiting to rise by the blow of the trumpet, while others’ had different parts of the body in different unknown places and no hope of ever coming to life again. Those who survived dreamt aloud talked to themselves or were in hospital. The war continued and many lost their lives, reason for war was not clear but there were enemies to be defeated.