Disabled by Wilfred Owens and Refugee Blues by WH Auden Essay

Disabled by Wilfred Owens and Refugee Blues by WH Auden Essay

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The poems “Disabled” by Wilfred Owens and “Refugee Blues” by WH Auden both address events that happened during war in Europe, collectively exploring the theme of discrimination, particularly the sense of exclusion and isolation initiated by War. In “Disabled” Owens examines the intricacies of a more interior, personal and psychological torment felt by a veteran from WWI, whereas in “Refugee Blues” Auden stresses the plight and desperation of a group of people and their exteriorly imposed repression. Both poets successfully use their poetic structure and imagery to highlight the nostalgic bitterness of the protagonists. Additionally Owens’ use of caesuras, reflecting the hectic, traumatized mind of the war veteran was particularly effective. In contrast Auden’s structure is simple and repetitive, adhering to the form of blues music—which was originated from African Americans—to accentuate the resemblance between the oppression and discrimination of the Jews in WWII and the enslaved African Americans.
Both Owens and Auden have frequently insinuated the element of exclusion. For instance, in “Disabled”, the plosive “ghastly suit of grey”, procures harsh sounds, reinforcing the bitterness of the veteran. The word “ghastly” could suggest the distaste of others and, perhaps, himself towards his wretched appearance. It could be interpreted that his “suit” is like a mask, a metaphorical concealment of himself from others, suggesting feelings of shame at his malformed physique. On top of this, the word “legless” used, could have multiple alternative interpretations. On a literary degree, it presents the veteran’s disabilities, reinforced by the enjambment at the end of the sentence—the sentence being curtailed (“Through the park/”) is s...


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...n’s desolation and pessimistic views towards life. This sentence, located at the poem’s denouement, provides a lasting impact and allows the reader to ponder on the psychological distortions imposed by war. Furthermore, the sheer individuality addressed in this poem forges a profound sense of empathy, hence sympathy, for the veteran as the subconscious intricacies elaborated enables us to fully submerge ourselves in the veteran’s perspective—when reading “Disabled” one merges with the poetic voice, whilst for “Refugee Blues”, the poem is narrated in second person and the readers are being told what is occurring by the poetic voice, therefore viewing everything from an exterior approach. Thus, in overview, Owen’s poem “Disabled” presents the impact of war in a more empathetic and effective way.






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Disabled by Wilfred Owen
Refugee Blues by WH Auden

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