Poetic Techniques of Wilfred Owen

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Wilfred Owen can be considered as one of the finest war poets of all times. His war poems, a collection of works composed between January 1917, when he was first sent to the Western Front, and November 1918, when he was killed in action, use a variety of poetic techniques to allow the reader to empathise with his world, situation, emotions and thoughts. The sonnet form, para-rhymes, ironic titles, voice, and various imagery used by Owen grasp the prominent central idea of the complete futility of war as well as explore underlying themes such as the massive waste of young lives, the horrors of war, the hopelessness of war and the loss of religion. These can be seen in the three poems, ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’, ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ and ‘The Last Laugh’, in which this essay will look into.

The sonnet form is commonly adopted by Owen to tersely present his numerous ideas and to evoke contemplation. The elegy, ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’, is written as a basic Shakespearean sonnet to mourn for the enormous loss of young soldiers from two distinct angles, the improper burials they obtained and the remembrance they deserve. The first two stanzas of ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ also adopt the sonnet form to explore two varying aspects of torment within war, the terrible conditions faced by all the men on a day-to-day basis and the sickening suffering of one particular youth. Owen uses this possible intertwining of contrasting thoughts within sonnets to emphasise that in every generation, there will always be different views with regard to the war. However, it is of key significance that the millions who died and suffered in this futility will be forever remembered. Their inconceivable experiences and horrifying statistics must be taken into...

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... shells “wailing” their “shrill, demented” mourning. The last sounds these soldiers are forced to listen to are their killers’ ridiculing at their naïve decision to fight. Weapons in Owen’s poems are personified to mock the war and reinforce its futility.

The poetic techniques used in Wilfred Owen’s war poetry sweep the reader from the surface of knowing to the essence of truly appreciating his ideas. Through sonnets, Para rhymes, ironic titles, voices and strong imagery, not only is the reader able to comprehend to the futility and the horrors of the Great War, but also they can almost physically and mentally empathise with those who fought. Through the three poems examined, it is evident that Owen goes to great effort to describe the conditions and thoughts of the First World War, thus his works are considered an invaluable asset to the modern literature.
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