Wilfred Owen's War Poetry

1219 Words Jun 21st, 2018 5 Pages
1. Introduction
Trudging through ravaged landscapes with rooted out trees, blood and mud everywhere, trenches infested with rats, half filled with water and with corpses – these were the circumstances in which some 8,700,000 lives had been lost during the First World War. However, this reality was long kept from the knowledge of the civilians at home, who continued to write about the noble pursuit of heroic ideals in old patriotic slogans (Anthology 2012: 2017). Those poets who were involved on the front soon realized the full horror of war, which is reflected in their poetic techniques, diction, and imaginations. Campbell (1999: 204) refers to their poetry as trench lyric, which not only calls attention to the poems’ most common
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Owen uses a variety of poetic techniques. In the first line he incorporates a caesura to emphasize the word ‘broke’ to reinforce a sense of destruction and fragility, which is followed by the word ‘winter’ with connotations of solemnity and death, referring to war. For the first two lines, Owen drew on Shelley’s “The Revolt of Islam”, and more specifically Canto 9, stanza 25 which says: ‘This is the winter of the world; and here / We die, even as the winds of Autumn fade’ (Simcox 2005). The end-stop at the end of the second line consequently emphasizes a foreshadowing of impending doom. An enjambment on the sixth line then creates a dramatic pause before summing up the consequences of this harsh winter. The following sextet completes the metaphor of seasonal change, which is reinforced by the use of Romantic imagery, and Greek and Roman mythology. ‘Spring had bloomed in early Greece’ (9) and ‘Summer blazed her glory out with Rome’ (10), initiating ‘A slow grand age’ (11). Thus, war destroys but peace follows and renews, and by using ‘blood for seed’ (14) this bloodshed and devastation creates the opportunity of something new to be born. It seems as if a spirit of hopeful self-sacrifice shines through this cyclical motif of seasonal change.
“A New Heaven” also Romantically uses Greek mythology to reflect the idea of the title in that it portrays an impression of
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