Wilfred Owen Essay

Wilfred Owen Essay

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Wilfred Owen can be considered to be one of the finest war poets of all times. His war poems, a collection of works composed between January 1917, when he was first sent to the Western Front, and November 1918, when he was killed in action, use a variety of poetic techniques to allow the reader to empathise with his world, situation, emotions and thoughts.

'Dulce et Decorum est' is a poem written through Owen’s eyes, based on his own experiences and views of sheer horror of war. Owen mounts a powerful argument against the complacency of those who believe the war to be a glorious patriotic duty and that dying for your country was noble and heroic.

Whilst in recovery in a hospital in Edinburgh, Owen met Siegfried Sassoon, an army captain and an established poet who wrote passionately of his experiences in the war. This was marked as a turning point in Owen's career as a poet. Sassoon was admired by Owen’s poetry and persuaded him to ‘sweat his guts out writing poetry,’ whilst encouraging him to further develop his unique style. Owen was introduced to a new circle of intellectuals including Robert Graves and others that corroborated his stature as a fellow poet. Initially Sassoon's influence was extreme and Owen began to write poetry that echoed his contemporary style. Though, he soon found his own unique approach to writing about the war. As his style matured, so did his characteristic use of such techniques as pararhyme, alliteration and assonance.

Owen uses four main groups of imagery that run throughout the poem:
1 – Tiredness, sleep, dreams, a nightmare world: “Men marched asleep”,
“Drunk with fatigue”, “In all my dreams”, “If in some smothering dreams”,
Owen suffered from nightmares as a result of shell-shock.
2 –...


... middle of paper ...


...ar is glorious. He is critical of the 'high zest' and the great enthusiasm that is used to convince men to go to war. He refers to the soldiers as having ‘innocent tongues’ and sees war as brutal and wasteful of young lives. His choice of the word 'children' is significant; as impressionable young men are almost lured to war by the promise of 'desperate glory'.

In conclusion, Owen breaks from the pretty language prevalent in the poetry of his era to show his society the awful images of real and not romantically heroic war. Finally, Owen juxtaposes the idea of war as devastating and the idea of war as heroic to illustrate the poem's ultimate irony - "The Old Lie: Dulce Et Decorum Est, Pro patria Mori", which translates from Latin as “it is sweet and right to die for your country,” a concept Owen strongly denied.



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