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Wilfred Owen

Essay by review  •  April 30, 2011  •  Essay  •  851 Words (4 Pages)  •  683 Views

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In his preface Wilfred Owen stated "Above all I am not concerned with Poetry. My subject is war and the Pity of War". Making close reference to the war poems, discuss how Owen saw his role as a poet during the war.

Wilfred Owen had wanted to be a poet ever since he was nineteen years old. However, it was his involvement in the First World War that prompted him to actually immerse himself in writing. Despite having great admiration for both Keats and Shelley, he moved away from their Romanticism mainly because he was enduring terror beyond what they could have possibly imagined. Thus Owen drifted away from the fanciful techniques of his idols and focused on the realism of the subject of his poetry. Owen wanted the soldiers' sufferings to be made public; he contributed to this greatly through his poetry. In this manner, Owen described with horrific detail, both universal as well as individual suffering.

As a poet, Wilfred Owen felt that it was his duty to expose the gruesome experiences of the soldiers who were fighting the war, to the general public. In the preface that Owen wrote, he declared that, "All the poet can do is warn. That is why true poets must be truthful." The role that Owen therefore seems to take is one that seems to be similar to that of a reporter because he strives to give information to the public. However, unlike reporters, Owen endured the horrendous experiences himself and as a poet, he has the advantage of using techniques and in order to further emphasize his points. For example in the poem 'Dulce et Decorum Est' Owen gives a chillingly realistic account of a gas attack. This deals with, among other issues, the panic that quickly spreads among the soldiers during a gas attack. As a poet, Owen has poetic devices at his disposal and he exploits these advantages greatly. For example, Owen's effective use of punctuation as the officer announces the gas attack,

"Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!"

conveys the panic that the soldiers experience. Meanwhile, in the poem 'The Sentry' Owen also reports what is happening on in the trenches. However, once again, his poetic abilities help in rendering a more emotional and realistic description of the events, for example, it is Owen's ability as a poet that enables him to capture the conditions of the trenches through the olfactory image,

"What murk of air remained stank old, and sour"

this shows that one of Owen's role as a war poet was that of painting a clear picture of what really went on during WWI.

As a war poet who was intent upon exposing the truth about the war, Owen explores the Pity of War through the sufferings of the individual soldier. He had the capacity to do this mainly because he was a soldier himself. The poem 'Disabled' is one that highlights the individual suffering of the soldiers. Owen refers to life-long damage inflicted by war; the focus in this poem is in fact on

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