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How far does Wilfred Owen's poetry convey the realities of war? Discuss three or four poems you have studied.

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Introduction

Coursework Essay How far does Wilfred Owen's poetry convey the realities of war? Discuss three or four poems you have studied. Wilfred Owen Wilfred Owen was born in 1893 and he joined the army in 1915. He was invalided because of shell shock and was sent to a hospital in Edinburgh. It was in this hospital that Owen met Siegfried Sassoon. Sassoon helped Owen with his poems. Although Owen only published five poems in his lifetime he is very much remembered for his bleak sense of realism, his anger and his realistic portrayal of the war. For my essay I have chosen to write about three of Wilfred Owen's poems. They are 'Dulce et Decorum est', 'Anthem for Doomed Youth' and 'Exposure'. 'Dulce et Decorum est' is about some young soldiers who are at war. They are marching but are so tired it is difficult for them to carry on. But they must as their lives depend on it. Suddenly there is a gas attack and through their tiredness a soldier shouts in panic because he cannot get his gas mask on and dies before their eyes. They place the dead body onto their wagon. Still the soldiers carry on. In the first line of the poem: 'Bent double, like old beggars under sacks', the soldiers are compared to beggars. ...read more.

Middle

The poem compares the deaths and burials of soldiers at the front with the church rituals at home. The poem is a sonnet, which are usually used for love poems, and has a regular rhyming rhythm. The title of this poem shows that most soldiers were young and that even if they don't die in the war they will still have to live the rest of their lives with the memories and flashbacks. Some soldiers will also have to live with a disability. In the first line of this poem: 'What passing bells for these who die as cattle?' Owen compares the soldiers to cattle to show how the men died in large groups and because the battle continued their comrades had no time to mourn their death or even think about the dead. There are many comparisons made in this poem: 'The monstrous anger of the guns' on the front line is compared with bells at a church funeral. The lack of prayers are replaced with: 'The stuttering rifles' rapid rattle'. Onomatopoeia is used here to enhance the image created. The choirs that would usually be heard in a church are, on the battleground only: 'the shrill, demented chiors of wailing shells'. 'What candles shall be held to speed them all? Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes' this is comparing candles to the reflection of explosions in the soldiers' eyes. ...read more.

Conclusion

Now wonders why he joined and can't believe his own stupidity at having wanted to join without being made to: 'He asked to join. He didn't have to beg'. Before arriving at war he did not think of the enemies or fear only of hoe good he would look in an army uniform. The fifth and shortest stanza show the man's disappointment of his homecoming. It was nothing like the cheering crowds from which he was sent to war but: 'Only a solemn man who brought him fruits Thanked him and then inquired about his soul'. The sixth and final stanza shows the disabled man's return to self-pity. He realises his loneliness and is upset that no one comes to put him to bed as it is so late. Wilfred Owen uses repetition to emphasise the fact that no one comes: 'How cold and late it is! Why don't they come And put him into bed? Why don't they come?' I think that Wilfred Owen's poetry conveys the realities of war to such a degree that I now understand not just the politics or ethics but the feelings of soldiers and their families. Owen uses very strong adjectives and extremely powerful metaphors to recreate the images that he has seen in the war. People can try to see the horror that soldiers saw and maybe the generations to come will think twice and be careful to prevent another war. Mikaela Wheatley 10v 07/05/07 1 of 4 ...read more.

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