WIlfred Owen, and His Ability to Express the Reality of War through Poetry

WIlfred Owen, and His Ability to Express the Reality of War through Poetry

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Considered the leading English poet of the First World War, Owen is remembered for realistic poems depicting the horrors of war, which were inspired by his experiences at the Western Front in 1916 and 1917. Owen considered the true subject of his poems to be "the pity of war," and attempted to present the true horror and realities of battle and its effects on the human spirit. His unique voice, which is less passionate and idealistic than those of other war poets, is complemented by his unusual and experimental style of writing. He is recognized as the first English poet to successfully use pararhyme, in which the rhyme is made through altered vowel sounds. Owen’s distinct way of both writing and reading poems led to influence other poets in the 1920s and 1930s.
Owen was born in Oswestry, Shropshire and was the eldest son of a minor railroad official. A thoughtful, imaginative youth, he was greatly influenced by his Calvinist mother and developed an early interest in Romantic poets and poetry, especially in John Keats, whose influence can be seen in many of Owen's poems. Owen was a serious student, attending schools in Birkenhead and Shrews-bury. After failing to win a university scholarship in 1911, he became a lay assistant to the Vicar of Dunsden in Oxfordshire. Failing again to win a scholarship in 1913, Owen accepted a position teaching English at the Berlitz School in Bordeaux, France. There he met the Symbolist poet and pacifist Laurent Tailhade, who encouraged Owen to become a poet. In 1915, a year after the beginning of the Great War, Owen returned to England and enlisted in the Artist's Rifles. While training in London, he frequented Harold Monro's Poetry Bookshop, where he became acquainted with Monro and regularly at...

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...e see a young boy being taught how to use weapons. In “Exposure”, Owen depicts a group of soldiers freezing to death at war, even though they aren’t in the midst of fighting. Lastly, in “Dulce Et Decorum Est” we read about a soldiers who struggles to get his mask on during a gas attack (when the enemy releases a gas deadly upon inhale). Owen describes the soldiers slow death in detail. Not only do these images provide the reader with first hand accounts of war, but they also show Owen’s feelings towards the war. All of these images that are glued into his head will be there forever, which is why he incorporates these realities in his poems, so that everyone can realize that war is nothing more than a inhumane act of terror.
Owen, Wilfred, Lewis C. Day, and Edmund Blunden. The Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen. New York: New Directions Pub., 1965. Print.

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