Wilfred Owens, 'The Send off' and 'Dulce et Decorum Est.'

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Wilfred Owens, ‘The Send off’ and ‘Dulce et Decorum Est.’

Examine the different faces of war presented by Owen in these two poems. Explore the similarities and differences between the poems and bring out aspects of Owen’s poetic technique.

Wilfred Owen was born in Shropshire in 1893. He went to school at the Birkenhead Institute in Liverpool and studied at London University. From a young age he always wanted to be a poet. He suffered a severe illness then travelled to France due to health reasons. There he became a tutor in Bordeaux. He remained in France until 1915. After France, he joined the Manchester regiment and fell ill after long experiences of trench warfare. He was then sent to a military hospital in Edinburgh. This is where he met a fellow poet named Siegfried Sassoon. Sassoon had a great influence on Owen and encouraged him to write his poems about the troubles of war. Owen was killed in November 1918, whilst in France after his re-draftment. During his lifetime, Sassoon collected many of Owen’s pieces and published them in 1920. Owen is a great example of men using the force of poetry to convey opinions to the general public about the cold heartedness of war.

In the poem ‘The Send Off’ the title is very ironic, as a normal association of the phrase ‘to send off’ is used for a happy going away. Whereas here, there are no, ‘gay’ faces. The first word in the poem is ‘Down’, which represents their descendents into hell and death. It almost seems as if the men are doomed before the poem has even started, or even before they have left the station. The third word on the first line ‘close’ gives us an idea of no escape and an oppressive atmosphere. ‘Darkening lanes’, tells us that the poem is set in a rural area, ‘lanes’, ‘darkening’, lack of light. This could also represent the men moving towards darkness. Also on the first line, the men are referred to as ‘they’. This not only makes them anonymous, but it is also very impersonal. It sounds as if the poet is disowning them. On line two, ‘to the sliding shed’, tells us that the men are almost being treated like animals or cargo as this is where such objects are normally loaded. Line three shows us an oxymoron ‘grimly gay’, which makes us believe that the soldiers and public in the poem are putting on false smiles as they fear to show emotion. On line ten, there is an example of personification ‘winked’, this is yet another example of Wilfred Owen’s way of presenting opinions.  The winking suggests a conspiracy against the men. The humans in the poem are unable to make much movement, but the surroundings around them are. Line eleven, tells us how the men are being sent to death as someone is trying to move them away secretly ‘like wrongs hushed up’.

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When the men are given flowers, we cant help but feel a sense of irony, as these flowers are normally given as a sign of love and respect, but could be used as a tribute to the men’s deaths ‘gave them flowers’.  In  line seventeen, we see a rhetorical question ‘Shall return in wild train loads?’ Here the poet is trying to explain how the men will not return to ‘beatings of great bells’, as it is very unlikely that they will all return. Evidence for this is the way he presented their return as a question instead of ...

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