The First World War began in 1914 and ended in 1918. Throughout the two years many men volunteered thinking that it was an opportunity to fight for their country. But they were badly mistaken. Instead of what they thought war was going to bring them, excitement and adventure, they received horrors beyond imagination. ‘Spring Offensive’ and ‘Exposure’ are two poems where the setting and atmosphere contribute to the ideas expressed by the poets. Wilfred Owen, who fought in the war and knew what the conditions where like, wrote both these poems which show different sides of war.
One shows what war was like in the spring and the other shows what war was like in the winter. In the first section of ‘Spring Offensive,’ Wilfred Owen describes what the soldiers were doing just before they went to battle. The soldiers relax and think of what could happen to them, “Knowing their feet had come to an end of the world. Marvelling they stood, and watched the long grass swirled. ” The soldiers rest before they go to battle. The word ‘Marvelling’ means that the soldiers stand there on the green grass and looking at the beautiful nature around them, thinking how this might be the last time they see something as beautiful.Order now
The words “… May Breeze, murmurous with wasp and midge;” The ‘m’s’ and ‘w’ emphasis the sound of an insects in the summer and that adds to the nature at the beginning of the poem. In the second section the poem the soldiers are getting ready to go to war. “… open stretch of herb and heather Exposed. And instantly the whole sky burned with fury against them… ” This first part of this phrase shows that as soon as the soldiers started to run over the hill they had nothing to cover them; they were ‘Exposed’ to the enemy’s fire.
Also the words ‘instantly the whole sky burned with fury against them’ show that as they ran over the hill, all hell let loose. Bullets and bombs were flying everywhere; dust was created out of thin air that hid the Sun from reaching onto the field. Finally in the last section of the poem men come back from war, many think that they are heroes but the soldiers will never forget what happened on that field and how they shouldn’t be crowned heroes, but murderers. “… few who rushed in the body to enter hell and there out-fiending all its fiends and flames with superhuman inhumanities…
The first part of the quote shows soldiers thinking that being on the battle field was worst than being in hell. This shows what happened on the battle field was extremely sinful and the men regret it. This also applies to a quote nearer the end of the poem, “Why speak no they of comrades that went under? ” This emphasises the fact that the horrors of war were so great they did not want to talk about the war. In ‘Exposure’ Owen describes how the soldiers had to wait in the cold for the enemy to make a mistake.
At the beginning of the poem Owen describes how cold winter was “… merciless iced east winds that knive us… ” The word ‘merciless and knive’ tell the reader that in winter most the soldiers died because of cold. They froze to death. Also at the end of nearly each stanza there is a quote, “But nothing happens” which emphasises the fact that winter was extremely cold and the soldiers where senseless and neither our soldiers nor the enemy had enough energy to move so both sides just waited until the cold disaster was over.
At first, when the First World War began the soldiers where very pleased and excited but in this poem Owen shows how many men realised the mistake they made “What are we doing here? ” this quote shows exactly that. Men questioned themselves if war was really worth leaving their family just to gain a medal. I don’t think it was. In ‘Exposure’ Owen uses the same language technique as he did in ‘Spring Offensive’, “Sudden successive flights of bullet streaks the silence… ” the ‘s’ alliteration creates the onomatopoeic sound of bullets flying through the air. Also the ‘f’ alliteration “…
Flowing flakes that flock… ” imitates how dull winter seems. It’s very beautiful in the winter but lifeless. When blood is shed on the white snow, winter comes to life. The difference between the two poems is that one is set in a cold environment and the other has a warm setting. The words ‘May breeze’ indicates that in the spring it was quiet warm, it was the perfect season to fight in because it wasn’t too hot or too cold. In ‘Exposure’ it was the opposite. It was the worst season to fight in and Owen describes winter as being, ‘merciless’ because the winter had no mercy on any soldier.
Even the title of the poem itself indicates that the men were ‘exposed’ to the cold. The cold made the soldiers weak and vulnerable so they could not give 100% in the fight. ‘Who’s For The Game? ‘ and ‘God! How I Hate You’ view war in completely different ways. One poem discusses how war is good for the world, using a propagandistic technique to persuade soldiers to join the war and fight for their country. The other discusses the reality of war and describes to us the conditions or war behind the propagandistic image.