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How does Owen use form and language in order to convey his feelings about World War One

? Wilfred Owen, the most acclaimed war poet of the First World War, was an extremely talented wordsmith, whose poetry was always of a high calibre. This however, was not Owen’s main aim, with his view on the role of a poet being made very clear through his Preface: “All a poet can do today is warn.” Owen saw it as his duty to relay the events of the First World War to those who would not see it themselves, in order to “warn” future generations. As a result, Owen’s poetry can be, to some extent, categorised into poetry written with political intent, and more personal poetry. A pattern that emerges when these poems are looked at is that, whilst almost all of Owen’s poetry is heavily influenced by the Romantic style, that with persuasive purpose subverts or even ignores the Romantic form for effect. One way in which Owen subverts a traditional Romantic form is through his experimental use of pararhyme, a technique that creates discord in the ears of the reader, often reflective of the mood of the poem. An ideal example of this is ‘Has Your Soul Sipped?’ a poem that uses pararhyme in contrast with the highly romanticised language used: “passing the rays /of the rubies of morning, /or the soft rise / of the moon”. This undermining of a typical rhyming scheme links in with the message behind the poem; an attack upon patriotism: “Or the sweet murder after long guard unto the martyr”. Owen also uses this poem to Another example of the use of pararhyme is in the poem “Strange Meeting” in which the use of rhymes such as “moan/mourn” and “wild/world” have a similar effect of mirroring the mood of the poem; discomforting and disturbing. Half rhyme is also present in the poem “taint/stint” and “untold/distilled” being further examples of how a traditional rhyming scheme is perverted to create dissonance. Throughout the poem the second rhyme is usually lower in pitch than the first, which also aids in producing the effect of dissonance, and failure. Throughout the poem Strange Meeting, Owen challenges ideas such as patriotism “None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress”, with the implication that countries were taking backward steps due to the war. This shows the political intent behind the poem, and justifies the alteration in from from the Romantic style Owen drew so much influence from. This change in the use of a typical Romantic form links in with Owen’s apparent disinterest in poetry expressed in his Preface “above all I am not concerned with Poetry” and his preoccupation with the “pity of War”, best expressed through the use of unseemly sounds, as that is what war was to Owen. Owen’s subversion of form is used in conjunction with his political motives to criticise the war and the way in which it was fought. In order to argue that poems with political meaning have had their form altered by Owen, relatively conventional poetry must be

although it could also be interpreted as anyone and everyone who promoted war without having experienced the realities of it “If in some smothering dreams.” This can be seen as referencing God himself as a Field Marshal. with a reference to “Field-Marshal God’s inspection. Owen’s disillusionment with religion can also be sensed. as referenced through “My friend. when in reality they are in the middle of a shell-storm. holds little or no political motivation. The poem also uses romantic imagery. a brutal attack upon the jingoistic poetry of Jesse Pope. The vernacular of the soldier in the poem is also as far as can be from the Romantic language Owen favoured in poems such as ‘Uriconium: an Ode’. ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ it’s language is completely at odds with the mystical language of the Romantics. This emphasises the point Owen is attempting to make of the obliviousness of the Home Front “we’re out of harm’s way. The blunt and figurative language used in poems such as ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ is also evidence of his deviance from the standard Romantic style for poems with effect. juxtaposing an unrealistic portrayal of war through the medium of a letter with the actual reality of it. This use of dialogue interposed with conventional poetry is also present in ‘Inspection’. you would not tell with such high zest” . implying that this entire war is God’s fault and he is a part of it. blood that had left his body as a result of the war itself. The poem “With an Identity Disc” is a personal poem addressed to Owen’s brother. who did write highly patriotic pro-war poetry. The “my friend” referenced is likely to be Jesse Pope. instead using haunting words or phrases such as “guttering” and “froth corrupted lungs” whose grim reality shock the reader. not bad fed”. a sonnet with a regular rhyme scheme and meter “heats/Keats”. and as an exploration of personal desires and dreams. cruelly emphasising the “pity of War” Owen felt obliged to portray through his poetry to the reader. showing the punishment a soldier received for not being able to remove his own blood from a shirt. yer ruddy cow!” and “ancient glories suddenly overcast”. with Owen preferring to use dialogue to conventional poetry. This change from a conventional type of language to one far more fitting with the “pity of War” reflects Owen’s intentions with the poem again. with there being a considerable contrast between “Yer what? Then don’t. suggesting contempt for . climaxing with the death of the soldier in the poem. in contrast with some of Owen’s more famous poems such as ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’: “ the same that keep in shade the quiet place of Keats”. This is shown through the poem’s very typical form. which follows a traditional rhyme scheme. which highlights man’s inhumanity to man in war “Some days ‘confined to a camp he got”. This very conventional use of form and language add further weight to the opinion that Owen’s poetry only experiments with new ideas in poetry with political intent.looked at as a control. you too could pace…” The poem ‘The Letter’ also is very experimental. Despite the regular rhyme scheme of the poem.

discordant fashion which compliments Owen’s opinions expressed in the poetry. Throughout Owen’s poetry it is evident to see that the change in form and language is linked to the political messages of his poems. language and form all being changed from a typical Romantic style to a more experimental. It can also be interpreted as an army commander who believes himself to be God. with rhyme scheme.religion. . With poetry less charged with intent however. not feeling the need to subvert form to emphasise his messages. which again just highlights the powerlessness of the common soldier in war. Owen reverts to a typical Romantic form.

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