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In all of his poems Wilfred Owen uses powerful language to portray the extreme suffering which soldiers underwent. He also uses a variety of poetic techniques which helps communication with the reader and holds them in suspense.

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Introduction

"Wilfred Owen cared passionately about the pain and pity of war and objected strongly to the attitudes of non-combatants who showed a wilful ignorance of the realities of war and indifference to the suffering of the soldiers" By careful examination of the language, imagery and poetic techniques show how effectively Owen communicates with 20th and 21st century readers. In all of his poems Wilfred Owen uses powerful language to portray the extreme suffering which soldiers underwent. He also uses a variety of poetic techniques which helps communication with the reader and holds them in suspense. Dulce et Decorum est is Owen's response to Jessie Pope's Who's For The Game and rejects the attitude in ode by Horace that it is sweet and proper to die for one's country. He describes soldiers as "beggars under sacks" and "coughing like hags". This is contrary to the image one would expect of soldiers and shows no optimism. The language used to describe the tired, unwilling soldiers in the first stanza gives the beginning a slow pace. Short, sharp words and exclamation marks in the second stanza indicate the panic that has arisen and speeds the poem up: "Gas! ...read more.

Middle

Owen felt very bitter towards these pro-war writers, he knew that they had not experienced war and never would. The last lines are full of irony - this is a very dark poem, designed to make people feel bad about war. In my opinion, Exposure is incredibly effective in keeping the reader on edge. The repeated use of "nothing happens" is very unsettling for the reader. There is no fighting in the poem which is unusual but gives the poem a strong sense of anticipation. Use of half rhyme adds to this effect: "silent" nearly rhymes with "salient" and "knife us" nearly rhymes with "nervous". Although the Germans are not attacking in the poem there is a different enemy - the weather. The poem suggests that in a way the icy winds are worse than the war itself and that even the elements are against the soldiers. Phrases like "Far off, like a dull rumour of some other war" indicate that the soldiers feel distant and as if they are not achieving anything. It also shows the dissociation they felt with the rest of the world. ...read more.

Conclusion

This creates a sense of hypocrisy because the Church has sent them out to war in the first place. As a country they asked people to risk everything but made it out to be clear and straight-forward. Yet at the end of it all the soldiers did not get the proper send off they deserved. Onomatopoeia, personification and alliteration are used in describing the guns. Words like "stuttering" imitate the sound of the "rifles' rapid rattle". It seems that Owen is really trying to put the emphasis on the weapons which are taking the lives of these young soldiers by using personification when he describes them. The words of the poem are cleverly chosen to heighten the expression of the poem in the way it is read. The alliteration makes the sound interrupted and quickens the pace. This reminds of the panic and rushing of war. However in the final line longer, slower words are used, dramatically slowing the pace of reading and making the words more expressive. To conclude, Owen uses many different poetic techniques to convey the horrors of war and communicate with 20th and 21st century reader. His vivid language and honest approach to describing the war to the reader is very effective. ...read more.

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