If Wilfred Owen's war poetry had one main aim, it would be to expose
"the old lie": that war is always a good and justified thing and that
it is a good thing to die for one's country. Owen had experienced
first hand the horrors and tragedies of the First World War, so he
inevitably wanted to break open the false façade and let the world
know the truth. I am going to explore what I find to be three of his
best poems and show how he achieved this aim.
Owen was born on the 18th of March 1893 in Shropshire, England. He
received a good education as a child and in 1915 he enlisted in the
army when he was 22 years old. He was injured in a shell explosion in
France and transferred to a war hospital back in England, where he was
given the chance to stay for the rest of the war. But due to his
loyalty to his troops, he returned to the frontline. He was killed in
action attempting to lead his men across a canal on November 4th 1918.
His death was particularly tragic as it came just a week before
Armistice Day and the end of the war.
A common misconception is that all war poets of the First World War
were against war. Usually on their way to war, some famous poets such
as Rupert Brooke wrote some very famous war poems. Poems such as "The
Soldier" and "The Volunteer" give very positive and romanticised views
of war and words such as "lance", "chivalry" and "legion" came up very
regularly. These poets were not stupid or attempting to get people to
enlist, they just didn't know any better due to the classic public
school education and the fact that there was no media, such as films
to, inform the public of how terrible war is. Even Wilfred Owen
himself wrote a very famous pro war line: "O...
... middle of paper ...
...hose that died and that we mustn't under any
circumstances forget them and he is asking why nobody talked about the
carnage. The obvious answer is that it was all too shocking for these
men to mention again; this is what Owen wants to emphasise.
I believe that Wilfred Owen's poetry achieved its purpose fully and
that no one after reading it will believe that the First World War was
for a good purpose and will see behind the false façade of the
propaganda. I think Owen's two most important lines in his poetry are
"You would not tell with such high zest to children ardent of some
desperate glory, the old lie" and "Why not they speak of comrades that
went under". These tell his beliefs- that war is never justified and
it is not a good thing to die for your country, and also that we must
never forget those who died and the suffering that they went through.
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