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owens war poetry

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

Owen's War Poetry Owen's war poetry is a passionate expression of outrage at the horrors of war and of pity for the young soldiers sacrificed in it. It is dramatic and memorable, whether describing physical horror, such as in' Dulce et Decorum Est' or the unseen, mental torment such as in' Disabled'. His diverse use of instantly understandable imagery and technique is what makes him the most memorable of the war poets. His poetry evokes more from us than simple disgust and sympathy; issues previously unconsidered are brought to our attention. One of Owen's talents is to convey his complex messages very proficiently. In' Dulce et Decorum Est'-' If in some smothering dreams you too could pace / Behind the wagon that we flung him in' the horror of witnessing this event becomes eternal through dreams. Though this boy died an innocent, war allowed no time to give his death dignity, which makes the horror so more poignant and haunting. This is touched on in' Mental Cases'-' Treading blood from lungs that had loved laughter / Always they must see these things and hear them'. Many of the sights which will haunt the surviving soldiers are not what the officials have ordered them to do, but what they have done to save their own lives.

Middle

Though sleep is relief from his tortuous life in' Disabled', sleep becomes a hell for many of the poems. In' Dulce et Decorum Est'-' In all my dreams . . . He plunges at me' and in' The Sentry' the persistent memories-' I try not to remember these things now'. The detail in Owen's poetry puts forward his scenes horrifically and memorably. His poems are suffused with the horror of battle, yet finely structured and innovative.' His bleeding cough'- a scene unimaginable by us, something only a true witness would see and' puckering foreheads crisp'- more than frozen to death, Owen acutely describes the impact on the skin and face. The scene witnessed by Owen is so detailed we feel familiar to it ourselves. As with the unseen scars, Owen delves beneath the surface of cover ups and expectations. As in' Disabled' and' S.I.W.', the full horror behind these unemotional terms is described. The particular techniques adopted by Owen in his poetry underline his messages. His use of speech and present tense give his poems urgency and directness. All the senses are utilised by Owen, a constant input of sound, smell, touch as well as sight increase the dimensions of his images and overwhelm us as he must have been. Owen's appliance of half-rhyme gives his poetry a dissonant, disturbing quality that amplifies his themes.

Conclusion

This creates layers in Owen's poems, creating appeal through many groups of people. The use of concrete, everyday material for his images creates great power in his poems. This application of common notions could account for the dismissive attitudes of some towards him. Yeat's verdict was' mud and sucked sugar stick' and promptly refused Owen recognition in his 1936 edition of the' Oxford book of Modern Verse'. This is to miss the point and the power of his poetry. He makes the situation real, dramatising the experiences, making us share his suffering. However full recognition as a highly esteemed poet did come, sadly after his death. So many of Owen's poems bring across poignant themes and images, which stay in the mind long after having read them. Though he states his primary aim is not poetry, but to describe the full horrors of war, he tells his experiences and opinions with such clarity and beauty- adding to the poignancy as war is so ugly and confused. I love to read his poems over many times, because each time I notice some new cleverness or point unseen before. His ability to pin point certain images and moments makes the moments recognisable, even to those who have never experienced war. He attempts to connect war with other aspects of human suffering, making him much more than simply a war poet.

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