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The three poems that I have chosen to analyse are 'Disabled' by Wilfred Owen, 'Stretcher Case' by Siegfried Sassoon and 'The Hero', also by Siegfried Sassoon.

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Introduction

20th Century Poetry Coursework Analysis of Three Poems from WWI The three poems that I have chosen are 'Disabled' by Wilfred Owen, 'Stretcher Case' by Siegfried Sassoon and 'The Hero', also by Siegfried Sassoon. They have a common link in that they are all focusing on one man and his war experience, although this is approached in different ways. In 'Disabled' Wilfred Owen uses one man to show how war was glorified and how this made men go to war without knowing what was going to happen. This is shown particularly in the fourth stanza when it says 'he thought of jewelled hilts...smart salutes...leave...(and) Esprit de corps (soldierly spirit)'. The poem then goes on to explain that the man now lives in an institute after losing his limbs in the war and that he is now ignored instead of admired and has become but a shadow of his former self. Here focusing on one man makes the reader feel more emotionally involved as they know his whole story and so feel like they knew him. The poet talks about the death and suffering of millions using this one man who has been through so much and is not even honoured for it. This poem, like the other two I have chosen, is written in the third person. This is quite an unusual form for poetry in general but seems quite common in wartime poetry. I think this is partly because the poet did not want to write as a dying person because they had not ...read more.

Middle

We can tell that the war was horrible for him not only because of the line 'tumult (confusion), terror, hurtling glare' but also because the man imagines what death would be like in quite a realistic and straightforward way ('he mused'). To me this implies that he has thought about dying before and what it would be like to die and so he does not think of death as a horrible experience. The poem consists of a 16 line stanza describing the man waking and his thoughts, followed by a single line where he regains part of his memory and then a six line stanza saying what he sees. The single is used for dramatic effect and also to clearly separate the other two stanzas, which have quite different moods. Unlike many of Siegfried Sassoon's poems, 'Stretcher Case' does not criticise the higher authorities in war such as the government and the sergeants. He does make a reference to the war itself being a terrible thing but he does this in a more subtle way than in many of his poems by comparing the beauty of the English countryside that the man sees around him to the horrors that he has just left ('from glooms and quags...to calm and brightness'). Another unusual feature considering that it is a Siegfried Sassoon poem is that he uses quite romantic, very descriptive language, more commonly associated with poets such as Rupert Brooke. ...read more.

Conclusion

Wilfred Owen's poem seems to be more spontaneous. The three poems are also different because they focus on different times in and around the war. 'Disabled' talks about the time before, during and after the war whereas 'Stretcher case' focuses on a particular moment as he wakes on the way home and 'The Hero' seems to be set during the war but in England away from the fighting. By reading these poems together, the reader can see that there were different attitudes towards the soldiers returning from the war and also that certain poets blamed the war on different people (for example, Siegfried Sassoon was particularly against the higher ranking officers). They can also see how injured people viewed returning to home; the subject of 'Disabled' was sad because he was seen as something for others to fear or pity instead of a hero whereas the subject of 'Stretcher case' was happy to see familiar sights. The common idea of having just one person is useful to the wartime poets because they can make their poems more emotional by involving the reader. The three poems I have chosen explore this idea in very different ways and I think that they are all effective in a way but 'Disabled' is best at making the reader feel like they know the subject and therefore feel genuinely sad about how he is treated. I think all three poems help the reader to gain a wider understanding of the First World War and the experiences that soldiers had. Laura Coles 10R - 1 - ...read more.

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