In his poems “Dulcet et Decorum est.” and “Anthem for Doomed Youth” Owen dispels the idea that dying for ones country is a bole or rewarding act and recognizes the futile deaths of his young comrades and the suffering and sadness of those left behind. However, it is difficult for the reader to derive any meaning or appreciation from these poems without an understanding of the life and times of the author and text. Knowledge of Owens life and military service provide insight into his thoughts, emotions and motivation for writing his poetry.
Owen served as a 2nd lieutenant in France. One of his traumatizing experiences included spending several days in a bomb crater trapped with the mangled corpse of a fellow officer while badly uncaused. This information gives Owens poetry credibility and evokes a horrifying realization in the reader that these graphic descriptions of warfare are not fabricated. For example, in “Dulcet et Decorum Est” Owen seems to look back on the events as a recurring nightmare.Order now
The poem details a gas attack on a band of exhausted soldiers, while one unfortunate man is not swift enough to get his mask on and his companions are forced to watch him die slowly and agonizingly, unable to help. The poet masterfully uses first-person POP to bring the events to the audience n a personal level. “In all my dreams, helpless before my sight, He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning. ” This literary technique, combined with the background information on Owens experiences, enhances the stark realism of the poem causing the reader to feel the emotions of the narrator of the poem.
Owens Christian upbringing is also evident in “Anthem for Doomed Youth”. Owen was raised as an Anglican of the evangelical school and was a devout believer in his youth. He also counted the Bible as one of the major influences on his poetry. This shows in Anthem” in which he skillfully Juxtaposes the glamour of trench warfare against the somber atmosphere of a church. These religious images: “orisons”, “mockeries”, “prayers”, “bells”, “choirs”, “candles”, “holy glimmer”, “pall” symbolism the sanctity of life.
This, along with the futility of war, is a recurring theme in Owens works. An understanding of the age in which a poem was written can reveal it’s purpose. For example, Owen wrote seeking to educate the populace of Britain of the tragedy and horror of war. This is because during the years of conflict, most war poetry was Adriatic and idealistic which heavily shaped the public perception of war as a glorious and honorable way to serve ones country.