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    The impact of the First World War on the poetry of Wilfred Owen

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    Owen explores his major theme the ‘pity of war’. He was mainly concerned with establishing the truth about war: that It was not at all glorious. He achieves this purpose through highlighting the emphatically negative aspects of war, Including the loss of young life, injustice, lies, and the effect of war on soldiers and the horrors of war. Two poems that convey these areas clearly and highlight Owens ‘pity of war” are The Next War and ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’. In ‘The Next War” Owen effectively conveys the horrors of war and injustice of the leaders sending men to death while they are safe.

    He uses personification to convey the soldiers relationship with Death in the lines “Out there, weave walked quite friendly up to Death” and “We laughed at him”. This shows that the soldiers had learned to live with Death to get through the day alive and sane. They had to become friends with him otherwise they would go Insane worrying constantly about who would die next and whether It would be them or not. When the soldiers had a close call with death they laughed, It was the only thing they could do, and this again suggests their sanity Is waning.

    This shows the readers the horror of war as the soldiers had to go to such extreme measures Just to make It through the day, which Is one of the mall aspects of the pity of war. The use of the metaphor In the lines “We’ve sniffed the green thick dour of his breath” conveys that ‘his breath’ is being directly compared to the gas used in the war. It implies that the gas is sent directly from Death to seek out and do harm, it also suggests that it is an often occurrence as someone breathing is on a regular basis. “He’s spat at with bullets and he’s coughed shrapnel. This personification conveys that the bullets and shrapnel from the enemy, which bring death to soldiers, are also sent from Death to kill. This makes Death seem like the enemy and that they should be fighting against Death not against each other. These two techniques portray the cruel deaths from guns and gas and how they are controlled by Death, making Death seem Like the enemy. This is the horror of war, which Is part of the pity of war. In the first stanza of the sonnet, which Is an octave, Owen makes death seem Like the ultimate enemy.

    But In the second stanza which Is a sestets, Owen reveals that Death is not the true enemy, but that the leaders are, as they send innocent men out to fight, kill and die for their country while the leaders re safe behind the lines. In the lines “And greater wars; when each fighter brags he wars on death – for lives; not men – for flags” Owen uses irony to convey the idea that leaders are liars and only go to war in the interests of their country and not in the interests of the individual person who will fight and die just because a leader commanded so.

    By using the structure of the sonnet to show this, Owen emphasized this difference with Juxtaposition by having the octave which implies death as the enemy and the sestets which depicts the leaders as the real enemy right next to each there. The aspect of the pity of war explored here Is the Injustice of the leaders who send soldiers to die while they stay safe. Wilfred Owen explores the ‘pity of war’ In the poem ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’. The mall areas he focuses on are the sacrifice of young innocent lives, the horrors of war and the injustice in war.

    Owen uses a “What passing-bells for these who die as cattle? ” Owen compares the young men to cattle whom are slaughtered, which dehumidifies them. This shows that the young boys are thought of only as cannon fodder and that they are not cared for. The heterocyclic question is used to involve the readers and create empathy for the young lives that are lost. The use of these techniques reinforces the point that Owen is making, that war reaps destruction in young lives.

    This is also shown in ‘The Next War’ as it also explores the loss of life brought about by the horrors of war. Owen effectively conveys the ‘pity of war’ through the sacrifice of young innocent lives. The glory of war is the main lie told about war. War is often portrayed as a wonderful thing that will give a man great glory will provide a great adventure. Owen set out to ell the truth about war through his poems. “Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, the shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells. This quote uses the techniques; oxymoron, personification and onomatopoeia. Owen combines these 3 techniques to depict that the boys who die will get no funeral, no one will grieve and no one will miss them. The only goodbye they get is the continuation of the war. It also alludes that no religion will be involved in their death proceedings. It suggests the idea that because God never helped them during the war it would Just be in insult to include hem in their deaths. The untruth of war is one of the main areas in the ‘pity of war’ that Owen portrays.

    The effect of war on soldiers is the aspect of the ‘pity of war’ explored in the lines “Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbye. ” Owen uses direct rhyme, emotive language and imagery to convey the affect the war has one the young soldiers. The rhyme scheme of having two lines rhyme instead of spreading the rhyme out like in the rest of the poem emphasizes that the war mentally affects the soldiers. It leaves them sad, depressed ND paranoid.

    Their moist eyes from tears reflect the fires burning and explosions that symbolize the candles burned at funerals to speeds the deed’s ascent to heaven. This conveys again that the boys get no proper funeral. The aspect of the pity of war portrayed in this quote is the effect of war on the soldiers. ‘The Next War’ and ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ are poems by Wilfred Owen that depict the ‘pity of war’ whose main themes are; Injustice, lies, horrors of war, loss of young life and the effect of war on soldiers. His main concern was to spread the message that war was not glorious.

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