Study on the Poetry of the World War One Era

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The poetry of the World War One era reflects the pain and suffering endured by soldiers, as well as the disillusionment of war. Some of the era's most prolific soldier-poets addressed war frankly and with graphic imagery. For example, Wilfred Owen's "Dulce et Decorum Est" starts with the lines, "Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge," The prevailing poetic trends were not to shy away from vivid detail but rather, to paint pictures for posterity. Owen, for instance, describes disturbing, gory death from gas inhalation: the "froth-corrupted lungs" and the "vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues," ("Dulce et Decorum Est"). Metaphors and similes were used not to soften the blows of death and devastation but to highlight the impact that war trauma has on individual psyches, communities, and cultural identities. Central messages in World War One-era poetry testify to the growing sense that war is a senseless endeavor. For instance, Wilfred Gibson writes about the psychological detachment that a soldier must feel in order to kill another human being. The narrator of "Back" states that it wasn't I / But someone just like me, / Who went across the sea / And with my head and hands / Killed men in foreign lands"¦ / Though I must bear the blame, / Because he bore my name." The narrator conveys his guilt with palpable imagery and direct diction. He is to blame for the death of someone's son, brother, or father; and yet
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