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"The First World War poets were able to affect the emotions of their readers. Choose two or more poems that have affected you in some way, and analyse how the poets have achieved this affect."

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Introduction

"The First World War poets were able to affect the emotions of their readers. Choose two or more poems that have affected you in some way, and analyse how the poets have achieved this affect." The subject of war is a delicate one to write about. However, Wilfred Owen expertly describes the horrors of conflict to his readers in a way few are able to. He conveys images and uses language in ways that can move the reader. In this essay I will look at two of his poems, written during and after the war, and aim to discuss the methods Owen uses in order to successfully influence the readers' emotions. After reading each of the poems, I felt I was able to recognize more fully the suffering that the men on the front line endured. Although the full extent of the terror of the trenches should never be seen again, Owen's writing gives a good idea of what war was like 90 years ago. The poems moved me and sadden me, and also opened my eyes to the horror of war. The poems I will be studying are 'Spring Offensive' and 'Futility'; they differ from each other in a variety of ways but each communicates a feeling of compassion for those who died in 1918. ...read more.

Middle

The senselessness of war was overridden was overshadowed by patriotic fervour. Owen lets the reader know there were 'No alarms of bugles, no high flags, no clamorous haste'. The war was very different to how many thought it should be, and it took many by surprise when they read Owens work, including myself. This advances the sense of sadness as the men were full of hope and excitement before the conflict, and at the end all that is left is death and decay. Owen then brings life back into the poem with 'the sun, like a friend with whom their love is done'. The sun is used again to give a feeling of mortality, as it is this star that brought life to the planet in the first place. The onslaught is introduced within a few lines of the fourth stanza. The opening words 'So, soon they topped the hill, and raced together...' give the impression of a matter-of-fact tone, as if the men dying was inevitable. Owen continues '...over an open stretch of herb and heather...' Here the men are seemingly enjoying the last few moments of their lives as they run as a unit towards the enemy; 'Exposed.' ...read more.

Conclusion

While 'Spring Offensive' talks a lot about the men's surroundings, 'Futility' focuses on key ideas instead if imagery. 'Futility' retains a sad mood throughout, while 'Spring Offensive' changes mood suddenly with the use of single lines or words. I think that 'Spring Offensive' is more effective at moving the reader as the feeling of deep sadness is emphasised by the change in mood. One minute the men are in high spirits as they wade through the long grass and suddenly they are 'exposed' to the 'unseen bullets' of the enemy machine guns. This also makes the soldiers appear very brave, as they show little fear. To conclude, I would say that 'Spring Offensive' is an exceptional piece of writing that moved me greatly. I felt real sympathy and sadness for the men that lost their lives for their country after the officers threw them into the front line. This feeling is strengthened through 'Futility', which makes the pointlessness of the War even more apparent. Owen uses rhythm and style to paint the terrible pictures of war in order to rouse the reader into thinking about his ideas. His use of rhetorical devices further reinforces his views on war and its senselessness. Finally, his questioning of God and his way of making nature appear all-powerful adds an effective twist to the overall view of his writing. ...read more.

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