Wilfred Owen

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Wilfred Owen

The poems written by Wilfred Owen are about the horrors, the ugliness, the suffering and the countless tragedies that war has brought. The anti-war them and serious tone used in his poems is extremely effective at portraying ear as horrid and devastating. The detailed descriptions of blood, guts and death are overpowering.

In the poem 'Dulce Et Decorum Est', Owen stresses how war should not be glorified or glamorised. The title meaning 'It is sweet and becoming to die for one's country' is used satirically because the poem describes the horror and agony that the soldiers endured during their time in the trenches. The title is used in contrast with the first line. It is a shocking description of once young and healthy boys.

'Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,

Knocked-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through the


This line shows the reader that the men are so tired and worn out by the war that they can be compared to 'old beggars'. The emotion that illuminates from these statements is powerful and intense. It is now clear that one, who has survived through the war, could not possibly glorify it in any way.

'His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin'

This is another great use of simile. It suggests that the soldier's face was probably covered in blood, which is the colour symbolising the devil. Owen vividly describes the hell the soldiers endured, desperately trying to stay alive. Exhausted, injured and 'Drunk with fatigue'. The word 'Blood-shod' explains how the men had been on their feet for days without rest. Their feet were so damaged that they no longer had the protective covering of their boots but their feet were covered in blood. Also words like 'guttering', 'chok...

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...Owen attempts to connect the war with other aspects of human suffering. He makes images and actions recognisable, even to those who have never experience war.

Owen shows us the physical horrors of war very effectively yet his poems stretch beyond that and delves into the unspoken feelings and emotions of those who are effected by the war indirectly. He tries to bring the horrors of war to the reader in the last verse of each poem. Simply, in war there is the horror and there is the pity. Owen offers the reader so much more insight into the horrors of war by showing the pity. With this the reader empathises with the speaker and therefore becomes more involved. Owen's poetry questions so much more than the visual atrocities that enable his poems to have an effect on people today. As Wilfred Owen said 'My topic is war and the pity of war, the poetry is in the pity'.
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