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WW1 Poetry Five Senses

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WWI POETRY LONG ESSAY Poems evoke one or more of the five senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste) to make abstract issues tangible. Discuss this statement with reference to the work of one or more of the War Poets. Poetry is a literary tool that tries to make abstract issues more substantial by evoking one or more of the five senses of humans, namely sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. This is true for the work of Wilfred Owen, a famous English poet in the First World War. Owen is renowned for his shocking and realistic poetry that portray the horrors of warfare, appealing to the reader's senses to try and deliver the horrific situations in war. His poems "Dulce Et Decorum Est" and "The Sentry" are obvious examples of such situations, both vividly describing the appalling effects war has on soldiers. These two poems are palpably Owen's personal accounts of the war as a soldier, and the things the reader can see, hear, smell, feel, and taste through these poems are no doubt from his firsthand experiences. "Dulce Et Decorum Est" is written as Owen's account of a gas attack while marching with his men. Immediately in the first verse Owen already appeals to the reader's senses, portraying the conditions of the march, "Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through the sludge". ...read more.


Owen even evokes taste, describing the taste of the poisoned blood as being "bitter as the cud of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues." Owen clearly spares no detail in "Dulce Et Decorum Est", using such graphic portrayals to appeal to our senses of sight, sound, and even taste. Similarly in "The Sentry", Owen describes the terrible conditions of the war while also focusing on the tragedy of one man, this time the incident of a sentry who was blasted from his post and was badly injured. The first verse of this poem brings the reader to realize the abysmal conditions of the trenches in war. The weather conditions were palpably terrible, and the line, "Rain, guttering down in waterfalls of slime" exaggerates the strength and volume of the falling rain. At the same time, Owen induces sound in the reader's mind with the onomatopoeic verb, "guttering", as well as the sense of touch, reminding us of the sticky consistency of the rain by metaphorically describing it as "slime". He also tells of "slush waist-high and rising hour by hour" and steps that are "choked" "too thick with clay", recreating the scene for the reader. Even the smell of the trenches was provided, be it the "murk of air" which "stank old, and sour", "fumes from whizbangs", or the "smell of men". ...read more.


The onomatopoeia in "wild chattering" along with the other sounds coming from the sentry is induced in the reader's mind, underlining the trauma that is suffered by soldiers in the war. The poem concludes in a disturbing note, "Through the dense din, I say, we heard him shout 'I see your lights!' But ours had long gone out". The "dense din", emphasized by the use of alliteration, depicts the thick noise in the small dugout, and though it literally evokes the sound, it also seems to evoke the sense of touch, almost as if the noise is thick to the point of suffocation. The hopeful voice of the sentry is made tragic by the fact that the lights had gone out. The reader is left with only darkness, no hope is left. Owen has clearly utilized all five senses, sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste, in his poems "Dulce Et Decorum Est" and "The Sentry". Be it the wide range of horrific scenes in war, the sounds bombs and suffering men, the smell of trenches, the feel of mud, or even the taste of blood, Owen has managed to deliver all these aspects of his experiences to the reader, inviting us to try and imagine experiencing the same situations. To people not having experienced it firsthand, war is more or less an abstract issue, fully understood only by those who experienced it. Owen manages to make war more tangible to us with his sense-evoking poetry, allowing us to perhaps understand its horrors better. ...read more.

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