If you studied the poetry of Wilfred Owen this year you may be interested in reading the following essay. It was written in an exam and it focuses on the poems Dulce et Decorum est, Disabled and Anthem for Doomed Youth. It would also be beneficial for those students who are studying Seamus Heaney to read this as it is an example of a strong poetry essay.
Write a detailed account of how your studied texts interested you by their choice and/or use of words and phrases.
In “Dulce et Decorum est”, Wilfred Owen uses graphic verbs and innovative descriptions to describe the absolute pity of war, to try and convince his original readers of wars futility.
Owen continues in this vein in “Disabled”, by using simple statements and blatant understatements to create an image of a young man, destroyed by war. In “Anthem for Doomed Youth”, Owen shares his philosophy on the blindness of his culture to the horrific deaths young men faced during the war by rhetorical questions, and bold controversial statements. All these features of Owen’s poetry fascinated me, because it showed just how Owen had put his mind, heart and soul into convincing his unbelieving country that the war was an evil, soul destroying scar on the history of man.
In Dulce et Decorum est, Owen begins by describing young soldiers who are “knock- kneed” and “coughing like hags”. Owen completely destroys the clichéd image of young sprightly soldiers representing the epitome of upright masculinity, and replaces them with a sorry image of prematurely aged young men who are now completely physically derelict.
Owen carrys on to attack any preconceptions of war being a “walk in the park”. The use of explicit verbs such as “guttering , choking, drowning” present the readers with an alternative reality of pain and suffering, only found in the blood stained pits of war. The reader now, after only the first stanza, is confronted with the forcefulness of Owen’s ideas and is taken aback, yet enthralled with these blood-chillingly, almost unreal, images. These descriptions made me realise just how oblivious “the people back home” must have been to the wars utter tragicness, if Owen felt so compelled to create such profound work.
In “Disabled”, Owen also uses “shock-tactics” to convey his urgent ideals. The phrase “legless, sewn short at elbow” uses a blantant understatement to describe the remains of a young man’s body, in a short, simple and abrupt sentence. The fact the Owen vividly described his whole body in one sentence, and leaves the reader with a pitiful, war-torn image as well, emphasises his skill and prowess at conveying his compelling ideals.
The line, “he lost his colour, far away from here”, shows Owen’s ability to give his message in a non conventional manner. The words “he lost his colour” immedietly bring an image to mind of blood slowly draining out from the young man, as he begins to pale, and then the words “far away from here”, place this deathly occurance into a muddy hole, and make the reader feel the man’s loneliness that he felt while suffering this fate. Owen’s ability to bring you into the poem and see and experience the horrors he unfolds, made me feel helpless, to just imagine, although his intended readers would have had more ability to act on this knowledge and would have been compelled to do so, if they felt the horror and disbelief I experienced.
In “Anthem for Doomed Youth”, I felt that Owen had a real sense of the events around him and that he had come to conclusions of his own concerning the war and how this affected those back home. The line, “No mockeries for them, no prayers nor bells” shows Owens philosophy on the reality of peoples attitude to the war. The fact that Owen calls the prayers and bells, that occur for those who die, a mockery, shows his belief that the conventional rituals for the dead of war, simply made death into something soft and sombre, when in fact it was likely that the soldier died a horrible and painful death, and Owen is not afraid to speak out his views. This made me realise that Owen disregarded conventional methods and beliefs, and simply write what he felt needed to be said about the unnecessary destructiveness of war and about how blind the public was to this.
In all three of these poems Owen has used various techniques and methods to make his message clear and I feel that if I had been in his time, my view would have been changed. His un-conventional descriptions made me realise how strongly he felt about the war and how much he was determined to inform the people of the “truth”.