First World War Poets

Powerful Essays
First World War Poets

The First World War poets were able to affect the emotions of their

readers. Choose two or more poems that have affected you in some way,

and analyse how the poets have achieved this affect.

The subject of war is a delicate one to write about. However, Wilfred

Owen expertly describes the horrors of conflict to his readers in a

way few are able to. He conveys images and uses language in ways that

can move the reader. In this essay I will look at two of his poems,

written during and after the war, and aim to discuss the methods Owen

uses in order to successfully influence the readers’ emotions.

After reading each of the poems, I felt I was able to recognize more

fully the suffering that the men on the front line endured. Although

the full extent of the terror of the trenches should never be seen

again, Owen’s writing gives a good idea of what war was like 90 years

ago. The poems moved me and sadden me, and also opened my eyes to the

horror of war.

The poems I will be studying are ‘Spring Offensive’ and ‘Futility’;

they differ from each other in a variety of ways but each communicates

a feeling of compassion for those who died in 1918. While one will use

perhaps horrific detail, another will use a milder and gentler method.

In answer to the essay title, I will show which techniques Owen uses

in each poem and how they move the reader.

The first poem I will look at is ‘Spring Offensive’. We can see from

the title that Owen may talk about conflict as ‘offensive’ suggests.

The opening line is one of sadness and imminent death, ‘Halted against

the shade of a last hill’. The use of ‘last’ implies that the men are

nearing the end of their lives and that the hill is that last one th...

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...suddenly they are

‘exposed’ to the ‘unseen bullets’ of the enemy machine guns. This also

makes the soldiers appear very brave, as they show little fear.

To conclude, I would say that ‘Spring Offensive’ is an exceptional

piece of writing that moved me greatly. I felt real sympathy and

sadness for the men that lost their lives for their country after the

officers threw them into the front line. This feeling is strengthened

through ‘Futility’, which makes the pointlessness of the War even more


Owen uses rhythm and style to paint the terrible pictures of war in

order to rouse the reader into thinking about his ideas. His use of

rhetorical devices further reinforces his views on war and its

senselessness. Finally, his questioning of God and his way of making

nature appear all-powerful adds an effective twist to the overall view

of his writing.
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