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Ardon M Pillay

The Send Off Notes


Features
Background
 Written 1918 in Craiglockhart, while Owen was recovering from shell-
shock
 Written from the perspective of an onlooker
 He wrote it to express the tragedy and futility of war
 Published posthumously, people who lost family and friends in the war
read it, but it drew criticism from others who said the poems failed to
discuss other aspects of war like camaraderie and acts of bravery.
General
 Themes: Propaganda vs Reality, Secrets and conspiracies
 Tone: Morose, depressed
 Poem starts on a negative note immediately
 Owen wanted to show readers the difference between propaganda and
reality as well as to discourage people from enlisting
Audience
 People who were strongly anti-war, as Owen’s poetry communicated this
very well to them
 This is shown through the use of Owens poetry in the 1960s in anti war
movements in the USA

Line by Line Analysis


Down the close, darkening lanes they sang their way
 “Down,” and “close,” have negative connotations, down is used to
describe depression and close connotes oppression
 Darkening – diction – shows how the road ahead only gets darker (worse)
 “sang,” – diction – despite their surroundings, the men are happy (sang
connotes happiness), this juxtaposes the morose atmosphere presented

To the siding-shed,
 imagery of siding shed shows how the men are being treated as
commodities, as a siding shed is where goods are stored
 The alliteration of the s letter imitates whispers, creating the idea of a
secret being withheld
 Siding shed is also at the very end of the train, this could reflect how the
men are nearly at the end of their lives

And lined the train with faces grimly gay.


 “lined,” –diction- suggests organisation, hence implying that this send off
is not as genuine as it seems, alluding to the idea that the government
has deliberately staged the send off in this way to keep the secret
Ardon M Pillay

 grimly gay – oxymoron, gay is happy and grimly connotes negative


emotions, this could express how on the surface the soldiers are happy to
go to war, but are secretly upset about it. It could also mean that they are
happy for now, but will not be happy when they reach the battlefield and
confront the reality of war. G alliteration emphasises this
Their breasts were stuck all white with wreath and spray
 “stuck,” – diction – could refer to stuck in the bullet sense, representing
death
 The running theme here is white with lots of decoration (wreath and
spray), this is ambiguous as it could be a funeral as well as a celebration,
this shows how the funerals of the men will follow shortly after they leave.

As men's are, dead.


 Confirms and reinforces the idea of a funeral
 Dramatic pause through the caesura to emphasise how the sadness of it, a
morbid word on a joyous occasion. This represents the sadness of the
soldiers’ death (PLEASE SEE MS OXLEY)

Dull porters watched them, and a casual tramp


 “dull,” – diction – because of the number of times the porters have seen
“send offs,” emphasises the repetitiveness of this exercise, not just a one
time thing. Their dullness juxtaposes the soldier’s apparent enthusiasm

Stood staring hard,


 “stood staring,” sibilance – emphasises the whispers of the government –
allusion to the secret of war being held and kept by the government
Sorry to miss them from the upland camp.
 “sorry,” – feelings of regret, ironic that the tramp feels sad for soldiers,
and the government does not despite them sending them off to their
deaths
Then, unmoved, signals nodded, and a lamp
 “unmoved,” diction- lack of emotion, atmosphere becomes more sinister
as soon as the soldiers leave, support idea that the send off was very
forced and put on
 “signals nodded,” – personification – all part of a secret conspiracy
Winked to the guard.
 “Winked at the guard,” – personification – all part of a secret conspiracy
Ardon M Pillay

So secretly, like wrongs hushed-up, they went.


 S sibilance once again emphasises the idea of a secret being kept
 The use of the word secret makes it seem that we will soon know the
secret, perhaps when the soldiers go onto the battlefield
 The wrongs are part of the secret and the use of the word “hushed”
implies that the government are treating soldiers as children as you
would tell a child to hush, but not an adult. Demeaning nature of
government
 “they went,” at the end of the caesura, at the end of the sentence, like it is
the last thing the soldiers will ever do

They were not ours:


 “they,” diction – collective term for soldiers, lack of identity when viewed
by government, seen as commodities
 “ours” – personal pronoun used to show that the government has no
responsibility for them

We never heard to which front these were sent.
 “these,” – sense of detachment through collective term, no identity, the
variation between they and these could also reflect the uncertainty of the
soldiers’ future?
Nor there if they yet mock what women meant
 flowers given as in the hopes of peace on the battlefield, expresses hope
that the men would come home
 Ironic because the men would never return, hence the flowers were
useless, hence the mocking by the soldiers once they reach the battlefield
Who gave them flowers.

Shall they return to beatings of great bells


 “beating,” – diction- a violent word used in the place of ringing, used to
show the effect of war on the soldiers, such that they see anything as a
form of violence
 “beatings of great bells,” –ambiguous, could be a celebration of the return
of soldiers or the funeral bells – reflect the expectations of war against the
reality of it
In wild trainloads?
Ardon M Pillay

 “wild,” – diction – denotes an abundance of animalistic behaviour,


expressing how the soldiers lose human qualities during war. This creates
the idea that the secret being kept is the true nature of war
A few, a few, too few for drums and yells,
 Repetition of soft sounds “a few, a few, too few,” create a morose tone,
emphasising how sad it is that only a few soldiers return
 “for drums and yells,” juxtaposed to the great bells line, further
expressing how the soldiers expectations are very different to reality
May creep back, silent, to still village wells
 “silent,” juxtaposed to the bells and yells presented in earlier line “great
bells.” – reinforce idea of unrealistic expectations. Also represents how
the soldiers don’t want to talk about their experiences in war, links to the
use of the word lame in Ducle, as it was used
 “creep,” – diction- suggests poor physical state that results in impaired
movement or could represent the emotional impact of war on the
soldiers, hence they “creep,” with sadness, rather than walk. Also
connotes moving silently, s0 noone will see them, reference to guilt of
soldeirs
 “still village wells,” – symbol of the home and peaceful subsistence, links
to how ironically, the soldiers will never reach the well?
Up half-known roads.
 “half known,” phrase references how