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Author Topic: Text Response Essay [War Poems]  (Read 4595 times)  Share 

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Paulrus

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Text Response Essay [War Poems]
« on: October 13, 2014, 09:02:31 pm »
+1
hey, i was wondering if someone could please give me feedback on this essay i wrote on wilfred owen. i wrote this under exam conditions at school and if anybody could give me some feedback i'd greatly appreciate it (and will also love you forever). a mark out of 10 would also be pretty cool, if possible.
thank you heaps in advance! :D

‘These poems are both evocatively beautiful and horrifying’. Discuss.

Silhouetted against the backdrop of his own experiences as a soldier, Wilfred Owen’s anthology ‘The War Poems’ elucidates the brutality of war and its corrosive effects on society. Owen’s acerbic depictions and horrific imagery evoke shock within the quixotic Zeitgeist of Great War-era England that informs his poetry, whose collective conspiracy of silence meant the public was generally unaware of the true nature of war. Owen’s poetry is not altogether pessimistic, however, revealing the beauty and goodness that still exists despite war’s attempts to destroy these qualities. Nonetheless, this is largely a reductive view of Owen’s poetry. He subverts our ideals of beauty and horror, bringing beauty to that which is most horrific, and horror to that which is most beautiful. Additionally, while Owen creates a synthesis between these romanticised and realistic depictions, we ultimately see a shift in his poetry towards realism as he grows ever more disillusioned with the idea of war.

Owen’s poetry aims to expose war to the criticism of reason, using brutal imagery as a source of shock. The poem ‘Mental Cases’ exemplifies this inhumanity, depicting soldiers as ‘purgatorial shadows’ who ‘sit […] here in twilight’, far removed from the standard image of youthful exuberance normally associated with soldiers. Instead, Owen suggests that their experiences in war have left them neither truly alive, nor dead – rather, existing in the space that lies in between, mere shadows of their former selves. This image is compounded in his simile of their teeth ‘leering like skulls’ teeth wicked’, connoting that they have been reduced to the most basic form of humanity. The comparison of their mental trauma to a wound that ‘bleeds afresh’ suggests that it is equal to any physical trauma, and it is thus fitting that Owen’s depictions of the physical effects of war are equally horrific. The poem ‘Disabled’ depicts a soldier who has been left ‘legless, sewn short at elbow’ as a result of his experiences in war. That he sits ‘waiting for dark’ takes on a sinister meaning, used by Owen as a metaphor for death. Here Owen evokes not only horror, but also sympathy for this young soldier who has had his ‘colour’, a metaphor for both his youth and his life’s potential, stolen from him.

However, Owen also exalts the beauty that remains in humanity and the world, showing his poetry is not altogether pessimistic. The poem ‘Futility’ conveys the beauty of nature, personifying the sun as ‘kind’ and ‘old’. Here the sun takes on a wise and protective persona, with Owen suggesting that nature itself remains pure and untainted in the face of war. Owen also finds beauty in the human form, indirectly praising the limbs that are so ‘dear-achieved’. He laments the senseless loss of these men, questioning the necessity of their deaths ‘for this’ – symbolising their growth as being from ‘clay’. Here Owen alludes to the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, in which humans were created from the dirt (or ‘clay’) of the Earth. This further emphasises the beauty Owen sees in the human form, signifying the divinity that supposedly lies behind its creation.

These are only schematic interpretations of his work, however. Owen does not simply create a dichotomy between beauty and horror – rather, he creates a marriage between these two ideals, bringing beauty to that which is most horrific, and horror to that which is most beautiful. ‘The Next War’ exemplifies this subversion of normally horrifying imagery. A culmination of the relentless savagery of the battlefield and consistent confrontations with their own morality demystifies Death to the extent that he is presented as a ‘chum’. This anthropomorphised representation of Death is portrayed ‘chorusing’ with the soldiers as they ‘laugh’ and ‘whistle’ at him. This auditory visual language shows that the idea of death has become a familiar comfort for the soldiers, beautifying what is otherwise considered a horrific notion. This finds a curious counterpart in the poem ‘Exposure’, which portrays the normally pacifistic and beautiful forces of nature as an enemy. The soldiers are ‘knive[d]’ by the ‘merciless iced east winds’. The narrator watches as his fellow soldiers succumb to the ‘pale flakes’ of snow, which are normally viewed as innocuously beautiful. Here Owen displays the inherent horror that can lie behind beauty in times of warfare.

Interestingly, we notice a marked shift in Owen’s poetry from romanticised depictions to brutal realism. While his earlier poems abound in lyrical celebrations of the natural world and human form, we later see these described more harshly. ‘Deep Under Turfy Grass’ describes Hell as ‘Chaos’ murky womb’, while ‘Strange Meeting’ refers to its paths as ‘groined’ by ‘Titanic wars’. Both descents into the Underworld have a curious common denominator – both describe the earth in terms of the human body, and both with a distinct sense of revulsion. We see Owen’s growing disillusionment with war taint his idealistic imagery of humanity itself, perhaps one of the most disturbing facets of his poetry.

Ultimately, Owen’s poetry evokes both the brutal realism of war and the beauty that lies hidden behind it. However, he finds a synthesis between these two ideals, presenting them together often as results of each other. He exalts the beauty of that which is horrific, while denouncing the horrors of that which is beautiful. Notably, there is a greater focus on revealing the horrors of war in his later poetry, suggesting that his appreciation of beauty was somewhat tarnished by his traumatic experiences in war.
2015-2017: Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) at University of Melbourne.

brenden

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Re: Text Response Essay [War Poems]
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2014, 01:09:37 pm »
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Hey Paulrus! Sorry on the delay - didn't want to mark this hurriedly so waited until I had a day off. Well done marking the ACC essay, I'm sure your feedback was very valuable!

‘These poems are both evocatively beautiful and horrifying’. Discuss.

Silhouetted against the backdropI've always hated this phrase just because it's a staple. I'd consider changing but to be honest, it's fine. of his own experiences as a soldier, Wilfred Owen’s anthology ‘The War Poems’ elucidates the brutality of war and its corrosive effects on society. Owen’s acerbic depictions and horrific imagery evoke shock within the quixotic Zeitgeist of Great War-era England that informs his poetry, whose collective conspiracy of silence meant the public was generally unaware of the true nature of war. Owen’s poetry is not altogether pessimistic, however, revealing the beauty and goodness that still exists despite war’s attempts to destroy these qualities. Nonetheless, this is largely a reductive view of Owen’s poetry. He subverts our ideals of beauty and horror, bringing beauty to that which is most horrific, and horror to that which is most beautiful. Additionally, while Owen creates a synthesis between these romanticised and realistic depictions, we ultimately see a shift in his poetry towards realism as he grows ever more disillusioned with the idea of war.I have nothing critical to say. Well done.

Owen’s poetry aims to expose war to the criticism of reason, usingutilising? employing? brutal imagery as a source of shock. The poem ‘Mental Cases’ I'm unfamiliar with the conventions of poetry names, but I'm sure 'Metal Cases' and 'The War Poems' should both be in inverted commas. It might be different for collections of poems, but I think "The War Poems" should still be underlined? Definitely don't take my word for it, but I'm sure they both shouldn't be the same. exemplifies this inhumanity, depicting soldiers as ‘purgatorial shadows’ who ‘sit […] here in twilight’, far removed from the standard image of youthful exuberance normally associated with soldiers. Instead, Owen suggests that their experiences in war have left them neither truly alive, nor dead – rather, existing in the space that lies in between, mere shadows of their former selves. This image is compounded in his simile of their teeth ‘leering like skulls’ teeth wicked’, connoting that they have been reduced to the most basic form of humanity. The comparison of their mental trauma to a wound that ‘bleeds afresh’ suggests that it is equal to any physical trauma, and it is thus fitting that Owen’s depictions of the physical effects of war are equally horrific. The poem ‘Disabled’ depicts a soldier who has been left ‘legless, sewn short at elbow’ as a result of his experiences in war. That he sits ‘waiting for dark’ takes on a sinister meaning, used by Owen as a metaphor for death. Here Owen evokes not only horror, but also sympathy for this young soldier who has had his ‘colour’, a metaphor for both his youth and his life’s potential, stolen from him.Well-constructed paragraph. Thorough. Appropriate analysis, relevant to the prompt, appropriate quoting. Can't find much critical to say. If you were being super critical, you might say that the "Disabled" poem mightn't be fully integrated into the paragraph as far as 'flow' goes - as in, its introduction could be a bit 'sudden' but that criticism would be overly picky..

However, Owen also exalts the beauty that remains in humanity and the world, showing his poetry is not altogether pessimistic Good, I like that you chose to immediately transition from the paragraph about shock(horror) to the beauty paragraph. Had you not have put this beauty paragraph here, I would have had in the back of my mind "I wonder if he'll address it". I would have had faith that it would be addressed later in the essay, but even so, you never want that 'I wonder' in the back of a reader's mind. Good structural choice here, and clear topic sentence.. The poem ‘Futility’ conveys the beauty of nature, personifying the sun as ‘kind’ and ‘old’. Here the sun takes on a wise and protective persona, with Owen suggesting that nature itself remains pure and untainted in the face of war.Good Owen also finds beauty in the human formSeamless transition, indirectly praising the limbs that are so ‘dear-achieved’. He laments the senseless loss of these men, questioning the necessity of their deaths ‘for this’ – symbolising their growth as being from ‘clay’. Here Owen alludes to the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, in which humans were created from the dirt (or ‘clay’) of the Earth. This further emphasises the beauty Owen sees in the human form, signifying the divinity that supposedly lies behind its create Again, really well done.  I feel like this paragraph was a bit rushed, perhaps a bit too "quick". Not a major issue - the concision could just be a stylistic choice (and looks like it).  n.

These are only schematic interpretations of his work, however Yuck. Hate it. I really think it's bad style to finish a sentence with 'however', and it literally causes me psychological pain. It's really weak, and not in a way that adds anything to your writing. This sentence loses nothing by using however at the beginning of the sentence, but it would gain some strength and confidence. . Owen does not simply create a dichotomy between beauty and horror – rather, he creates a marriage between these two ideals, bringing beauty to that which is most horrific, and horror to that which is most beautiful.I really like this structural choice. Like, A, B, AB as far as your paragraphs go. I like the idea/'interpretation', too. ‘The Next War’ exemplifies this subversion of normally horrifying imagery. A culmination of the relentless savagery of the battlefield and consistent confrontations with their own morality demystifies Death to the extent that he is presented as a ‘chum’. This anthropomorphised representation of Death is portrayed ‘chorusing’ with the soldiers as they ‘laugh’ and ‘whistle’ at him. This auditory visual language shows that the idea of death has become a familiar comfort for the soldiers, beautifying what is otherwise considered a horrific notion. This finds a curious counterpart in the poem ‘Exposure’, which portrays the normally pacifistic and beautiful forces of nature as an enemy. The soldiers are ‘knive[d]’ by the ‘merciless iced east winds’. The narrator watches as his fellow soldiers succumb to the ‘pale flakes’ of snow, which are normally viewed as innocuously beautiful. Here Owen displays the inherent horror that can lie behind beauty in times of warfare. So, I see the structure you're finishing your paragraphs with is intended to sort of intricately "leak" into your next paragraph rather than having each paragraph married to itself, and I think you've used this really well. However, I think it's not used as well in this paragraph, because I sort of feel like it's unfinished, just as far "beauty in horror" and "horror in beauty" don't get equal amounts of attention in the reader's mind. Through finishing the paragraph on one without mentioning the other, I think it exemplifies that one at the expense of the other. So, I think a more traditional "link" sentence should be used here - and not one that makes it clunky or anything, it can still be exactly the same essentially, I'd just mentioned the other facet of the paragraph, because it is about the integration and the sort of 'inverse' relationship between these two concepts, so I think your last sentence should attest to that, even if it's a break in stylistic choice. Like, he displays the inherent horror in beauty, but he also displays the beautiful horror inherent in X or something like that. (Chiasmus included!)

Interestingly, we notice a marked shift in Owen’s poetry from romanticised depictions to brutal realism. While his earlier poems abound in lyrical celebrations of the natural world and human form, we later see these described more harshly. ‘Deep Under Turfy Grass’ describes Hell as ‘Chaos’ murky womb’, while ‘Strange Meeting’ refers to its paths as ‘groined’ by ‘Titanic wars’. Both descents into the Underworld have a curious common denominator – both describe the earth in terms of the human body, and both with a distinct sense of revulsion. We see Owen’s growing disillusionment with war taint his idealistic imagery of humanity itself, perhaps one of the most disturbing facets of his poetry.Ehhh, I really feel like this could have been elaborated on at least a little bit. (My only gripe with this paragraph)

Ultimately, Owen’s poetry evokes both the brutal realism of war and the beauty that lies hidden behind it. However, he finds a synthesis between these two ideals, presenting them together often as results of each other. He exalts the beauty of that which is horrific, while denouncing the horrors of that which is beautiful. Notably, there is a greater focus on revealing the horrors of war in his later poetry, suggesting that his appreciation of beauty was somewhat tarnished by his traumatic experiences in war.If you sacrificed part of the third paragraph to ensure this conclusion wasn't butchered, then you made the right strategic decision

Well, I've never read the poems, nor taught it, nor thought about how VCAA would mark these essays and whether they'd adhere quite strictly to the normal criteria or allow things like "quality of interpretation" to creep into their mind so, I'm not best placed to imagine what kind of mark they'd give you, but I wouldn't give you less than a 9. HOWEVER, it's really hard to judge that, because writing on the poems forces a stylistic difference to standard text responses which I'm less familiar with. I just think this essay was written really well, especially considering it was written under exam conditions. Like, there were no grammar fuck ups (except for that 'however' which is debatable but disgusting nonetheless), and the piece was really cohesive, quotes used well, analysis appropriate and at a good quantity. It's getting harder and harder to give a numerical mark for these things the further away I get from having my own essays marked, so I'm unsure if this could get an eight from an examiner, but yeah... I'd probably say it sits at a nine imo. Could be wrong, could be right. Who knows. Well done! And well done on marking ACC, it was a valuable contribution to the forums :)
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Paulrus

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Re: Text Response Essay [War Poems]
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2014, 10:00:51 pm »
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thank you so much for your feedback! this is so detailed haha
i think my concision is partially due to my writing style, but also partically cos of the feeling of 'oh god i'm running out of time what do' that i always get during essays lol
i definitely know what you mean, writing essays on the poems is almost like a different kind of essay to regular text responses - it took me a while to get used to it tbh.

but yeah thank you heaps for your help! if anyone reads this pls upvote brenden  :P
2015-2017: Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) at University of Melbourne.

brenden

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Re: Text Response Essay [War Poems]
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2014, 10:09:50 pm »
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Heh, no worries! You earned it buddy :)

I think you really pull it off - it doesn't seemed rushed at all except forthe shorter paragraphs that are like "hmmm, deliberate or getting owned?" Are you still struggling for time? This seemed a really good one hour effort.
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Paulrus

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Re: Text Response Essay [War Poems]
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2014, 11:23:45 pm »
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yeah i find it hard to reach a decent essay length under a time limit cos i tend to deliberate over word choice, but i don't really have that luxury in an exam unfortunately so i end up rushing. the majority of the time i'm not really happy with my essays under timed conditions but i think that's probably universal haha
i actually spent a bit over an hour writing this (maybe like 1 hour 10 mins?) and probably a similar amount on the lang analysis, which meant i only had about 40 mins to write up my context piece. basically time limits are not my friend :P

although i've kinda been experimenting with writing an interview instead of an expository, which seems to be a lot faster for me. it might be a bit risky to change the entire form of my pieces so close to the exam though so i'm not sure haha
2015-2017: Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) at University of Melbourne.

brenden

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Re: Text Response Essay [War Poems]
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2014, 11:49:19 pm »
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I know Pi used an interview style for his exam and scored okay! It'd probably be even less risky to remember certain questions that have certain answers. Remembering essays is one thing, but remembering ten basic questions to generate answers too would probably speed things up might quick if even a few of the answers were relevant.  If I makes you feel any better I was writing one thousand quality words in 55 minutes before my exam and then ended up writing context in 30 minutes :p! Still plenty of time to work on timing. Give yourself an essay that you're allowed to be as you want and write whatever comes to mind. You'll find your natural word choice is probably just as good as your normal word choice lol
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