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First World War Poetry - Owen's 'work embodies.... the changing values of the time': how?

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Introduction

First World War Poetry Owen's 'work embodies....the changing values of the time': how? In the early 20th Century social change was occurring, Queen Victoria had just died, philosophers and scientists such as Nietzsche and Darwin had just published books with secular and anti-establishment ideas causing a massive ripple affect amongst society comparable with that of the renaissance. For many, war was a welcome inspiration. England had become confused, complacent and static, war brought unity, patriotism and heroes. Rupert Brooke wrote in the poem 'Peace' that the war 'wakened ...(them)... from sleeping'. However, it eventually became clear that the war, despite its benefits, was futile and the lives of millions of men were sacrificed because the government were frightened of the shifts in power occurring in Europe. Public opinion changed from believing that there was glory and bravery in war to there was nothing but waste and pity in war. Owen's poetry summarises this change in attitude because he is trying to explain to those who do not yet understand, the pointlessness of war. 'Dulce et Decorum Est', is the title to a double sonnet written by Wilfred Owen, and is the beginning of the phrase 'Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori', meaning 'it is sweet and proper to die for your country'. ...read more.

Middle

Owen addresses the reader as 'my friend' again in irony, because he is really addressing the politicians, the women handing out white feathers and the parents who felt shame would be upon them if you did not fight. Owen is addressing those people because he wants them in particular to know how dreadful and horrific the life of a soldier was and that if they did understand they would never imagine to try and romanticise war or encourage signing up; That they would never dream of telling their children the old lie: 'That it is sweet and proper to die for your country.' Owen's greatest frustration over the war appears to be with the na�ve at home who still imagine the war as a place of glory and brave men, he is determined through his poetry to shatter these illusions. In a letter to his mother, Owen wrote 'My subject is War and the pity of War', this statement as does 'Dulce et Decorum Est' epitomises the changing opinions and values during the First World War. He also wrote 'All a poet can do is warn. That is why poets must be truthful.'. 'Anthem For Doomed Youth' is another example of Owen's anarchic Poetry. ...read more.

Conclusion

Brooke's audience are the families of the deceased, he is writing for those who do not wish to believe their son or husband or nephew's death was futile. Brooke did not survive long enough to fight in the war himself and although many soldiers identify with his poetry as much as others do with Owen's, because they genuinely enjoyed the war and would have gladly died for their country, Owen was writing later, when people did not accept totally that the war was worthy and necessary. Owen's work epitomises what views people came to posses but Brooke's and Freemen's and Hodgson's and indeed many others poets' are pre war opinions, Brooke's poetry is unaffected by any experience of war because he never made it there, Owen speaks from experience which is why he is respected. Owen wrote the truth, as we realise it was in hindsight and people were beginning to realise towards this end of the war, which is why his 'work embodies....the changing values of the time.' Because he is unaffected by any sense of patriotism he feels he can write critically of the war, people of the era were realising that although they believe their country is worth fighting for, this war was not. ...read more.

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