War in the Poetry of Wilfred Owen Essay

War in the Poetry of Wilfred Owen Essay

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War in the Poetry of Wilfred Owen The First World War marked an important turning point in Literary
History: in the poems of Wilfred Owen, war is described for the first
time in all its horror.

War has always been described as horrific, but you had a chance to
prove yourself in warfare. This is the impression we get from
Chaucer's General Prologue to the "Canterbury Tales ". Chaucer (the
pilgrim) describes the Knight, as a worthy man who had certain
knightly qualities. He was a brave man and he behaved like a knight in
shining armour should. He set an example to all the people around him
and he had great respect for his King and Country. "He loved
chivalrie…" in other words this noble man was well experienced in
battle and he had fought in fifteen wars. Chaucer the pilgrim believed
that he was a noble, generous and liberal Knight with good manners:

"He was a verray, parfit gentil Knight".

Chaucer's Knight is respected because he has proven himself in battle.

Earlier poets recognised the violence of war but saw it as an
honourable struggle, and that death was a worthy sacrifice. In
pre-World War One poems, Alfred Tennyson among other poets describes
war; the emphasis on honour and glory:

"When can their glory fade? O the wild charge they made!"

The charge is the best-known example of the heroism and stupidity of
war, but Tennyson focuses on the glory.

Henry Newbolt was the most patriotic poet of Britain's Empire. He
wrote the poem, "Vitai Lampada": the torch of life. His code of
behaviour towards war was that it was all a game of Cricket. And
...


... middle of paper ...


...ads."

At the end of 'Dulce Et Decorum Est': "In all my dreams before my
helpless sight he plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning." -

And near to the end of 'The Sentry': "Eyeballs, huge-bulged like
squids, watch my dreams still."

Owen understood that War was no longer glorious or honourable for the
ordinary soldier-there was no longer any hand-to-hand fighting anymore
but mechanical weaponry e.g. Artillery, guns, bombs etc.

He experienced it first hand and saw that the war was merely
destructive.

"Shall life renew these bodies?" he asks in 'The End', and the only
answer he can find is that "it is death." There is no purpose in
fighting such a terrible war and now it is up to the poets to tell the
truth about it:

"All a poet can do today is warn. That is why the true poets must be
truthful."

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