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How far does the poetry of Wilfred Owen break new ground in the Tradition of War Poetry?

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Introduction

How far does the poetry Wilfred Owen break new ground in the Tradition of War Poetry? Most war poets writing before the First World War had not actually fought themselves, indeed the famous war poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade" was written using information from a newspaper article. Most soldiers in the centuries before Wilfred Owen were illiterate and therefore did not write poems, this is what made Wilfred Owens poetry so much more realistic and immediate in contrast to previous war poetry before the first world war. "The Charge of the Light brigade," by Alfred Tennyson, was written soon after he read an article, published in The Times, in November 1854. It is about the British Cavalry, being given the wrong order, but instead of disobeying, even when they know that the command is wrong, they carry on and fight for their country. Tennyson honours the men, even though their leader has made a blunder. They did what they were told and they were noble to have done this. "When can their glory fade? O the wild charge they made! All the world wondered. Honour the charge they made! Honour the light brigade, Noble six hundred" Tennyson uses repetition of lines, three lines of stanza three are repeated in stanza five, this is because in stanza three, they are on their way in to the "Jaw's of death" and in stanza five they are on their way out. ...read more.

Middle

However, they couldn't have been more wrong. During World War one conditions for the soldiers were very bad. Regiments spent their time in trenches, suffering from trench warfare. On the occasions when they left the trenches and 'went over the top' they were usually killed by machine gun fire or severely wounded by barbed wire. There was stalemate between England and France versus Germany. Enemy lines seemed impossible to break. In the Battle of the Somme, millions of soldiers took part and thousands died. Wilfred Owens poems showed the cruelty of the war. And have a great impact on the reader as they do not glorify war and they do show his feelings. Wilfred Owen is now considered one of the most important First World War poets. He was the son of a Railway worker, born in Shropshire. He couldn't afford to go to University so he went to teach in France at the outbreak of the war. He trained as an officer, as a volunteer, and was sent to the Somme sector at the end of 1916. Wilfred Owen broke new ground in the tradition of war poetry because he is one of very few war poets who actually went to war. He could tell people of his first hand experiences, of seeing people killed and the true horror of war. ...read more.

Conclusion

This poem for Wilfred Owen was a very personal poem "my dreams" he tells us first hand he was there "I saw him". This is the contrast with earlier war poets who did not convey this vision of actually being in the battle. Owen says that if the reader has seen the same terrible sight of "his hanging face like devil sick of sin" he would not tell "the old lie: Dulce et Decorum est pro patria mori" which means " it is sweet and fitting to die for your country" this is a direct contrast to the views of Tennyson and Newbolt. In 'Anthem for Doomed youth' he says that the young soldiers slaughtered in the war "die as cattle". They do not have any of the elaborate funeral rites they would have had if they had died in England there are no "prayers nor Bells" nor "mourning" for them, except for the "shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells". This poem is a sonnet which was a favourite form of poetry for Owen Wilfred Owen's poems were different to earlier war poetry, he was there, which means his poems show realism, and feeling. They give an immediate image of the horror of war, and graphic details of death, and show pity and sorrow. One week before the Armistice on 4 November 1918, trying to take his company across the Sambre Canal, he was helping engineers build a bridge, enemies opened fire and he was killed. ...read more.

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