Symbolism In The Parable Of The Old Man And The Young

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Hi everyone, today I will be deconstructing Wilfred Owen’s poem The Parable of the Old Man and the Young.

War poets, such as Wilfred Owen, who experienced the horrors of warfare in World War I saw it as their duty to reveal the truth about war by using non-metaphoric imagery that described true nature of trench warfare. Wilfred Owen was born on the 18th of March 1893, and was known as a poet and a soldier in World War 1. His poem has shown a wide range of audience the realistic of war. The poem The Parable of the Old Man and the Young is a biblical story of Abraham and Isaac and provides it new vitality and resonance in light of World War I. This poem was published in 1920 by Seigfried Sassoon without the last line “And half the seed of Europe, one by one”.

Owen compared the bible story of Abraham and Isaac with World War One to show that our leaders are willing to sacrifice innocent young men for their selfishness. In the original story Abraham did not sacrifice his son, but the lamb. However in the poem, Abram did not kill the ram (his pride) and he “slew” his son. Owen had used techniques such as symbolism and allegory to convey the horror of sacrificing the young and the waste and futility of war.

Owen’s shows a very negative light towards the subject of war. This can be determined as most of his works are protesting against it, including The Parable of the Old Man and the Young. This poem is a biblical story of Abraham and Isaac; therefore it contains a very biblical, tragic, and serious tone. As the poem progresses you begin to realize that the poem has a twist as it reveals the true dreadfulness of war however still has a reference to the bible story. The line “then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps” illustr...

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...wen juxtaposed the biblical language with military terminology demonstrates that though the poem appears to be set back in the times of the Old Testament it applies to the time of World War I as well. The isolation of the last two lines shows a departure from the biblical tone with the two negative “Buts” indicating the distinction and the deliberate reaction of: “But the old man would not so, but slew his son / And half the seed of Europe, one by one.” The “one by one” adds a pre-meditated deliberative motive behind the action. By juxtaposing the biblical language with war terminology Owen was able to convey the message that our leaders are selfish and do not have the love for us like Abraham had for his son.

What attracted me to this poem was how the poet wrote the poem as an allegory to tell the story of war. This poem is very effective and has many meanings.
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