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Write a critical appreciation of “The Send-Off” by Wilfred Owen.

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Introduction

Write a critical appreciation of "The Send-Off" by Wilfred Owen. By referring to your own wider reading, examine how typical in both style and treatment of subject matter this poem is of literature from or about the First World War. "The Send Off" by Wilfred Owen is a piece of literature written about war and this can be seen quite clearly from the language and undertones within the poem. There are no linguistic experiments in 'The Send-Off; the rhymes are full, not half, and the groups of two and three lines form four perfect verses. It is quieter-toned than some others - being set in England, not the war zone - but makes its point with utter clarity. The poem lets on that there has been some celebration, possibly a parade. "Shall they return to beatings of great bells In wild train-loads?" Owen suggests that now the celebrations and euphoria are over, a sense of let down is inevitable for any person - but especially a soldier whose face is "grimly gay". The oxymoron used there provides a vivid image of a person who cannot help but be taken over with all the high spirits but still has the underlying sense of foreboding - the external attempt at cheerfulness hiding their true feelings. ...read more.

Middle

Darkness is now upon the train in more ways than one! The lamp "winks" to the guard - unspoken signals - almost as if it is ashamed to send the men off to their deaths. Poem has openly sombre tone now. During and after the First World War, many people could not bear to watch a train moving away because this reminded them of a last meeting. Today, we think of trains being packed with victims for the concentration camps, other wrongs that were hushed up. Opening with alliteration "so secretly" implies that they are not watched but are whisked away in the night. It would be too awful to watch them go, too painful. They go like "wrongs hushed-up". An acknowledgement that everyone knows what will happen and how pointless and tragic it all is, but no one dare say so. The soldiers are referred to as "they" almost as if they are from another race! "They were not ours" this is a way of distancing ourselves from the tragedy and our responsibility for the tragedy. Anonymous figures, like shadows, being sent to a front we, as readers don't even know where. It makes it more comfortable for us, we don't want to get too involved - or so Owen believes. ...read more.

Conclusion

become lies when return happens without success. They will return to the centre of village life. Perhaps the villages may have changed whilst they were away. Maybe the villages aren't as the soldiers used to know them. What is certain is that the soldiers themselves have changed, and will never be the same. Owen seems to have distrusted public emotion and felt that the highly organised displays that have just ended can only obstruct true communication between people, and clear thought. Of the men who have been sent off, only a few will survive and each of them must find his own way back; the healing process needs silence and privacy. In a letter home, Owen had described how the Germans 'choked up the wells with farmyard refuse', and the image found its way into two poems, 'Strange Meeting', where blood is washed away by 'sweet wells', and this one. Village wells were a traditional meeting-place where travellers can find refreshment, and half-known roads, it is suggested, are better than the broad highway of public opinion I liked the poem although I found it challenging to understand and analyse. The language is very detailed and evocative and I found that very helpful when reading through it. Owens choice of words were obviously picked specifically and with an intention behind them all. ?? ?? ?? ?? Amy Gallacher ...read more.

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