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Author Topic: Text Response - The War Poems  (Read 2955 times)  Share 

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Paulrus

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Text Response - The War Poems
« on: July 03, 2014, 01:45:37 pm »
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hey, i was wondering if i could get some feedback for this essay on 'the war poems'. it wasn't written under timed conditions, so i don't think i could actually write this in the exam, but any feedback whatsoever would be amazing.
thanks heaps in advance!

‘Owen’s poetry is not simply about war.’ Discuss.
Silhouetted against the backdrop of his own experiences as a soldier in World War One, Wilfred Owen’s anthology ‘The War Poems’ reflects on the corrosive effects of war upon society. While his poetry vividly foregrounds the plight of the soldier, castigating those who encourage young men to go to war, his work reveals greater implications for society as a whole. He suggests that warfare will cause society to stagnate, leading to the disintegration of its moral guidelines. Owen’s poetry is not simply concerned with war; rather, it depicts the overarching social repercussions it engenders, and the effects caused by how it is viewed. War itself then acts as a medium through which Owen conveys the universal suffering of the people during World War One.
 
At a schematic level, Owen’s poetry concerns itself with elucidating the horrors of war, particularly within a Great War-era readership that was largely unaware of its brutality. Readers are embroiled in the atrocities of war through his bleak and brutal imagery of the battlefield. The protagonist of ‘Disabled’ has been left ‘legless, sewn short at elbow’, severely incapacitated as a result of his experiences in war. He is forced to sit in a ‘wheeled chair’ in which he waits for ‘dark’, as this is the only time he can truly be unseen by other people. The harsh portrayal of a soldier who has been stripped of his ‘colour’, a metaphor for his youth, reveals the brutal effects of war on the physical wellbeing of men. Owen’s poetry additionally explores the corrosive effects of war on men’s sanity, embroiling his audience in the horrors of war even beyond its physical effects. Soldiers in ‘Mental Cases’ are depicted as ‘purgatorial shadows’ who ‘sit here in twilight’; unrecognizable shells of their former selves who exist in a void between life and death. Their teeth ‘leer like skulls’ teeth wicked’, with this simile signifying how they have been reduced to the most basic form of humanity – although they superficially appear human, the essence of who these men once were has been stripped away, leaving behind ‘set-smiling corpses’. Owen graphically recounts both the mental and physical horrors of war in order to educate his audience about its true nature.

Owen also targets the social perception of war, attacking those who propagate idealistic images of warfare in order to encourage young men to fight. He rejects the quixotic notion that it is ‘sweet and right to die for one’s country’ in ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’. Owen’s use of iambic pentameter here is ironic – the use of conventional form and meter is incongruous with the iconoclastic stance asserted in his poetry. However, the meter is imperfect, with several lines constituting more than ten syllables. This represents the tearing down of traditional thought structures, seditiously calling for change in the public perception of war as virtuous and right. Owen takes particular aim at world leaders for their dissemination of this romanticised view of war, carelessly sending young people off to die. Soldiers are described in ‘S.I.W’ as being sacrificed ‘at the pleasure of this world’s Powers who’d run amok.’ The capitalisation of ‘Powers’ emphasises the dominance of world leaders over the soldiers, creating a dichotomy between the two and elucidating the dangers of these romanticised views of war. This would have had particular resonance within Owen’s audience in the embers of the Edwardian era, a period characterised by the vast chasms between social classes, with the rich and the poor existing almost in different worlds. The exploitation of soldiers would likely mirror the experiences of the lower classes during the period, consolidating the importance for reform in the perception of war in the minds of his audience.

Applied to a broader context, Owen warns against the overall social repercussions of war, suggesting it will cause our society to regress morally. The poem ‘Strange Meeting’ proposes that nations will ‘trek from progress’, implying that they will continue to move further away from social advancement. By ‘retreating’ into ‘vain citadels that are not walled’, the world is instead declining in its morals. The walls of the citadel symbolise our own civil humanity– by taking those away, Owen posits that our society will become uncivilised and dehumanised. He draws parallels between warfare and human sacrifice in ‘The Parable of the Old Man and the Young’, a practice usually seen as ancient and uncivilised. The ‘belts and straps’ used to bind Abram are a metaphor for the uniforms worn by soldiers. Equating warfare with such an outdated and questionable practice encourages Owen’s audience to view war as equally regressive.

Owen’s poetry additionally concerns itself with social inequalities outside of warfare, challenging societal norms which he views to be unjust. War acts as a macrocosm for his own personal struggle against societal conventions due to his sexuality. As a result of the parochial and pious mindsets commonly held during the period, Owen’s relationship with Sigfried Sassoon would have been viewed as unacceptable. The final stanza of the fragment ‘Wild With All Regrets’, dedicated to ‘S.S.’, depicts Owen’s wish to ‘stay’ with him ‘for some few hours’ and ‘wean’ from his ‘rich breathing’. Attached to the dedication on the original manuscript was a tentative ‘May I?’, illustrating Owen’s reluctance to be overt about their relationship due to the stigma surrounding homosexuality in 1910s England. Again, the imperfect use of iambic pentameter in the poem represents Owen and Sassoon’s deviation from the traditional morals of the period. By defying the conventions of poetry, he subtly denotes his distaste for the period's traditional values.

Wilfred Owen’s anthology, ‘The War Poems’, acts as both an informant and a catalyst. On a superficial level, he aims to illuminate the horrors of war, depicting its true nature to an audience not previously exposed to it. However, the true potency and longevity of Owen’s work stems from his commentary on war within the context of society itself.  His poetry examines its overarching effects upon society, suggesting that a world bereft of war is a progressive one. Owen additionally challenges the romanticised views of war commonly held during the period, whilst questioning social norms that he believes to be unjust. Ultimately, while his poetry primarily deals with war, war acts as a vehicle through which he is able to convey a much more complex commentary on society itself.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2014, 04:15:58 am by Paulrus »
2015-2017: Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) at University of Melbourne.

literally lauren

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Re: Text Response - The War Poems
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2014, 08:46:46 pm »
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‘Owen’s poetry is not simply about war.’ Discuss.
Silhouetted against the backdrop of his own experiences as a soldier in World War One, Wilfred Owen’s anthology ‘The War Poems’ reflects on the corrosive effects of war upon society. While his poetry vividly foregrounds the plight of the soldier, castigating those who encourage young men to go to war, his work reveals greater implications for society as a whole. He suggests that warfare will cause society to stagnate, leading to the disintegration of its moral guidelines. Owen’s poetry is not simply concerned with war; rather, it depicts the overarching social repercussions it engenders, and the effects caused by how it is viewed. War itself then acts as a medium through which Owen conveys the universal suffering of the people during World War One. Very good intro :)
 
At a schematic level, Owen’s poetry concerns itself with elucidating the horrors of war, particularly within a Great War-era readership that was largely unaware of its brutality. Readers are embroiled in the atrocities of war through his bleak and brutal imagery of the battlefield. The protagonist of ‘Disabled’ has been left ‘legless, sewn short at elbow’, severely incapacitated as a result of his experiences in war. He is forced to sit in a ‘wheeled chair’ try not to overuse the quotes. It's good that you're integrating them fluently, but there's no real reason to quote 'wheeled chair.' in which he waits for ‘dark’, as this is the only time he can truly be unseen by other people. Perhaps consider this at a metaphorical level? Is he just waiting for the night-time, or could 'darkness' have a more sinister meaning? The harsh portrayal of a soldier who has been stripped of his ‘colour’, a metaphor for his youth not just youth, I would argue, although that idea is definitely evident in the poem. Colour I think is more indicative of vitality here, and of one's inner character, reveals the brutal effects of war on the physical wellbeing of men. Owen’s poetry additionally explores the corrosive effects of war on men’s sanity, embroiling his audience try not to reuse these sorts of phrases; if 'embroiled' is a word you find yourself using, write a list of 5-6 synonyms to vary your vocab in the horrors of war even beyond its physical effects. Perhaps a linking word here to connect the poems? Similarly... Likewise... Contrarily... Soldiers in ‘Mental Cases’ are depicted as ‘purgatorial shadows’ who ‘sit here in twilight’; unrecognizable shells of their former selves who exist in a void between life and death. Their teeth ‘leer like skulls’ teeth wicked’, with this simile signifying how they have been reduced to the most basic form of humanity – although they superficially appear human, the essence of who these men once were has been stripped away, leaving behind ‘set-smiling corpses’. Owen graphically recounts both the mental and physical horrors of war in order to educate his audience about its true nature.

Owen also targets the social perception of war, attacking those who propagate idealistic images of warfare in order to encourage young men to fight. He rejects the quixotic notion that it is ‘sweet and right to die for one’s country’ in ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’. nice Owen’s use of iambic pentameter here is ironic – the use of conventional form and meter is incongruous with the iconoclastic stance asserted in his poetry. However, the meter is imperfect, with several lines constituting more than ten syllables. This represents the tearing down of traditional thought structures, seditiously calling for change in the public perception of war as virtuous and right. Excellent! Owen takes particular aim at world leaders for their dissemination of this romanticised view of war, carelessly sending young people off to die. Soldiers are described in ‘S.I.W’ as being sacrificed ‘at the pleasure of this world’s Powers who’d run amok.’ The capitalisation of ‘Powers’ emphasises the dominance of world leaders over the soldiers, creating a dichotomy between the two and elucidating the dangers of these romanticised views of war. This would have had particular resonance within Owen’s audience in the embers of the Edwardian era love the assonance :), a period characterised by the vast chasms between social classes, with the rich and the poor existing almost in different worlds. The exploitation of soldiers would likely mirror the experiences of the lower classes during the period, consolidating the importance for reform in the perception of war in the minds of his audience. Excellent para, and good use of external evidence

Applied to a broader context, Owen warns against the overall social repercussions of war, suggesting it will cause our society to regress morally. The poem ‘Strange Meeting’ proposes that nations will ‘trek from progress’, implying that they will continue to move further away from social advancement. By ‘retreating’ into ‘vain citadels that are not walled’, the world is instead declining in its morals. The walls of the citadel symbolise our own civil humanity– by taking those away, Owen posits that our society will become uncivilised and dehumanised. Again, I feel like you need a link here, otherwise it's a bit disjointed jumping from one poem to another, even if the ideas are linked. He draws parallels between warfare and human sacrifice in ‘The Parable of the Old Man and the Young’, a practice usually seen as ancient and uncivilised. The ‘belts and straps’ used to bind Abram are a metaphor for the uniforms worn by soldiers. Equating warfare with such an outdated and questionable practice encourages Owen’s audience to view war as equally regressive. V. good.

Owen’s poetry additionally concerns itself with social inequalities outside of warfare, challenging societal norms which he views to be unjust. War acts as a macrocosm for his own personal struggle against societal conventions due to his sexuality. As a result of the parochial and pious mindsets commonly held during the period, Owen’s relationship with Sigfried Sassoon would have been viewed as unacceptable. The final stanza of the fragment ‘Wild With All Regrets’, dedicated to ‘S.S.’, depicts Owen’s wish to ‘stay’ with him ‘for some few hours’ and ‘wean’ from his ‘rich breathing’. Attached to the dedication on the original manuscript was a tentative ‘May I?’, illustrating Owen’s reluctance to be overt about their relationship due to the stigma surrounding homosexuality in 1910s England. Again, the imperfect use of iambic pentameter in the poem represents Owen and Sassoon’s deviation from the traditional morals of the period. By defying the conventions of poetry, he subtly denotes his distaste for the period's traditional values.

Wilfred Owen’s anthology, ‘The War Poems’, acts as both an informant and a catalyst. On a superficial level, he aims to illuminate the horrors of war, depicting its true nature to an audience not previously exposed to it. However, the true potency and longevity of Owen’s work stems from his commentary on war within the context of society itself.  His poetry examines its overarching effects upon society, suggesting that a world bereft of war is a progressive one. Owen additionally challenges the romanticised views of war commonly held during the period, whilst questioning social norms that he believes to be unjust. Ultimately, while his poetry primarily deals with war, war acts as a vehicle through which he is able to convey a much more complex commentary on society itself. Great conclusion

I can't imagine an assessor finding many faults with this. You've addressed the question directly and in a complex way, your language is very sophisticated, and your analysis of the poems is excellent. Topic sentences outlined your focus clearly, but the links between poems maybe could have been strengthened. But that's really minor point, I think this would definitely be a high scoring response by an end of year standard.

Don't worry about the time conditions for now, you'll have heaps of time to get that right. Your ideas and ability are much more important at this stage, and you're definitely on the right track :) Well done!

Paulrus

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Re: Text Response - The War Poems
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2014, 05:54:17 pm »
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wow, thank you so much! i'll definitely try work your feedback into my essays :)
2015-2017: Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) at University of Melbourne.