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The Sentry; By Wilfred Owen

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The Sentry. Critical Evaluation. "The Sentry is a very vivid poem written by Wilfred Owen which describes the horrendous conditions he remembers during life in the trenches of World War One. We learn how the trenches sounded and smelt like, and also how the effects of war live with you forever. The poem touched me because I had never realised just how much pain and suffering the soldiers had to go through, but this poem brings it to your attention. The poet grabs your attention by vividly describing the surroundings both in and outside the trenches. "Rain, guttering down in waterfalls of slime" is an effective metaphor which vividly describes what the trenches looked like, and just how wet they were. The word 'waterfalls' suggests an abundance of water, which is constantly flowing and never-ending. It gives us the idea that they have no control over the water, as a waterfall is near enough unstoppable. Also, because the word is plural, we can then imagine the quantity of water. There was so much water that the mud turned to 'slime', so we can imagine just how dirty the trenches are, with a thick slime forever flowing around them. ...read more.


The metaphor "there we herded from the blast" is effective because when we see the word herded, we think of animals, in close proximity, in a state of confusion. This makes us think of the soldiers all very close together, panicking, and running for their lives. We can imagine that when one runs, they all do, like confused cattle. Owen manages to give reader an idea of the suffering which took place during the four years of World War One, by using many more imagery techniques. Techniques such as contrast, such as the contrast created between the inside the trenches and outside on the battlefield. The trenches are full of suffering, with moans and whines surrounding them, everything pretty quiet. While outside, bombs are falling, rain is "guttering down" and shrieks are filling the air. This contrast is effective because it lets us see the two sides of life during the war, the calm and serenity inside the trenches with the violence and aggression outside. Long sentences and use of enjambement mirror the continuity of the war, of how the soldiers were never allowed a break, of the ever lasting suffering and chaos which surrounded them all, and also of the never-ending attacks. ...read more.


"I try not to remember these things now" conveys this image. The last stanza is all written in a pretty negative tone, with use of words such as "died", "bled" and "drowned". There were many consequences following the war, whether from just injuries, or loss of lives. Nobody left was without constant reminders of how awful the surroundings and just trench life in general was. Many soldiers, while fighting there, would contemplate killing themselves just to escape the horrible conditions, which shows us just how bad it really was. We know that the British won the war, although if we look at how much was lost, I don't know whether to class it as a good thing or not. We lost a lot of soldiers, and even the survivors lost a part of them, as none of them returned the same as they were before they left. So to be honest, the British didn't really gain anything; only the ever lasting impact of war on them. Overall, the poem was very good in describing to us the conditions of war; and how it would affect all involved forever. It made me aware of what World War One was really like, through the use of very effective techniques as explained. :) ?? ?? ?? ?? Becky Menzies October '08 ...read more.

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