Compare how Wilfred Owen uses the natural world to reinforce the suffering that the soldiers faced in the poems 'Spring Offensive' and 'Exposure'

Authors Avatar

Compare how Owen uses the natural world to reinforce the suffering that the soldiers faced in the poems ‘spring offensive’ and ‘exposure’.

Wilfred Owen was an experienced soldier who fought in World War One. He wrote poems based on his experiences in the war. Many of his poems focus on the ordeals of the soldiers and the problems they face. In the poems ‘Spring Offensive’ and ‘Exposure’ Owen shows the love/ hate relationship between soldiers and nature. I think that Owens personal experiences of both battles of war and nature were the inspiration for these two poems. Wilfred Owen once said ‘My subject is war and the pity of war. The poetry is in the pity’. These poems certainly show the pity of soldiers and of war.

The poem ‘Exposure’ tells of men fighting two enemies. The enemy in battle but also an unexpected enemy that caused far more pain and suffering to the soldiers - nature and horrendous winter weather conditions. This poem shows the reality of war as in some parts the soldiers are dying from the weather, and hallucinating from its effects.

The poem ‘Spring Offensive’ is set in a different scene but there is still a lot of detail to nature and the soldiers. The poem is about a group of soldiers who wait for the enemy and in this time they see the weather get worse and worse. When they finally attack the weather conditions are horrendous. They are exposed to open gun fire and many are injured or killed. In this poem the soldiers are so focussed on the battle at the beginning, but once the battle begins the weather changes, the tone changes and nature is against man.

‘Spring Offensive’ begins with Owen setting the scene with a nice calm atmosphere ‘The sun, like a friend with whom their love is done’. This quote shows that the sun was their friend i.e. the weather was good, But once the battle started it got worse. Again Owen uses personification. At the beginning of both of these poems nature has been against the men, so the poems have this as a similarity. Unlike ‘Spring Offensive’, ‘exposure starts by setting the scene with ‘merciless iced east winds that knife us’. Owen uses personification to describe the pain from the winds, using the words ‘knife us’, shows that something like the wind was causing so much pain to the soldiers. Knives are usually associated with pain so the words ‘merciless and knifes’ shows that the wind went through the soldiers creating a big obstacle for them as fighting is hard but with the discomfort of the wind it must have been a nightmare for the soldiers, and it must have been a nightmare that Owen personally encountered as he describes it with so much pain and feeling. Both of the poems start by setting the scene but in ‘Spring Offensive’ the weather is calm and things are calm. Differently in ‘Exposure’ you go straight into a nightmare of the soldiers, with bad weather conditions and on the verge of fighting.

Join now!

The tone in ‘Exposure’ is very depressing and bitter when Owen describes the surroundings and sets the scene in the first few stanzas, but by the third stanza it is even more negative and bitter as things are described, such as dawn which is usually described as a nice peaceful time is described as ‘poignant misery’. This shows that the morning, which is usually regarded as beautiful and full of hope for the day ahead, is hated by the soldiers who see it as another day of fighting. Another day of being inches away from death. Again this is ...

This is a preview of the whole essay