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Analysis - "Exposure" by Wilfred Owen

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Analysis - "Exposure" by Wilfred Owen The poem "exposure" by Wilfred Owen is written in Winter of 1917. It portrays the message of the real enemy of the soldiers being the cold and icy conditions. Moreover, it provides us with a lively description of the persistent cold and awful conditions during one of the worst winters in the first world war. It shows that most of the soldiers were exposed rather than shot by enemies. The poem portrays all the opposing facts to make young men not join the war as it is nothing heroic. Owen uses all his senses to describe the frosty atmosphere and sets a lamenting and descriptive tone. The rhyme scheme is ABBA and the stanzas are continuous, emphasizing the continuous suffering of the British. It is written in first person plural, which makes us feel with the soldiers and put ourselves into their position. The poem starts off with "Our brains ache, in the merciless iced east winds that knive us...". The assonantal "i" sounds in the words "brains", "merciless", "iced", "winds" and knive" evoke a hushing sound of the cold wind blowing around the trenches. ...read more.


In the next line, "We only know war lasts, rain soaks, and clouds sag stormy". The sibilance in this line forms a heavy and oppressive tone that makes this line flow." Then, Owen continues by describing the 'attack of nature'; "Dawn massing in the east her melancholy army/ Attacks once more in ranks on shivering ranks of gray". This metaphor shows that "dawn" is attacking the British soldiers and the clouds could represent the lines of the Germans. The enjambment of the two lines creates a quickness which we can relate to the attack. Moreover, the violent "k" sounds in "Attacks", "ranks" and again "ranks" make the war-scenery sound more dramatic and emphasize a dying scene of natural dominance. The last stanza of the first half of the poem starts off with "Sudden successive flights of bullets streak the silence". The sibilant "s" sounds in this line evoke the speed and the sound of striking bullets. The trembling air is then personified in the next line, which says "Less deadly than the air that shudders black with snow". The air is shaking so much that is seems like it is "shudder[ing]" like shockwaves. The second part of the poem continues with "Pale flakes with fingering stealth come feeling for our faces -". ...read more.


In the penultimate line of the poem, there is a half-rhyme as Owen mentions that "All their eyes are ice". This metaphor shows that what used to be the eyes of the soldiers have frozen to ice-balls. Also, the freezing together and the use of them as a half-rhyme add to the fact that the soldiers were nameless and the word "all" mean that there were many of them that all looked the same. The last line of the poem is again the first of the last line in stanza 1 saying, "But nothing happens". The way it is repeated in the poem shows that it is very tragic and that war is allowed to continue and people will carry on dying in the same, dreadful way as they did before. The poem is written in a very open structure with the eight stanzas all being equal, which could represent soldiers in war, all being the same and unidentified. There are many spaces in between each stanza and line, emphasizing the waiting of the soldiers and the agony of the men during war. The poem described the effect of climate in war in a very descriptive and emotional way and grabbed us, as readers, very much, like in any other of Wilfred Owens's war poems. ...read more.

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