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WILFRED OWEN 1893-1918 - Preface to his poetry



WILFRED OWEN 1893-1918 - Preface to his poetry

Owen says that hi poetry was not about heroes, about legends, or lands, or glory, honour, majesty, power; his poetry was about war. The subject of his poetry in particular is the pity of the war (= the sufferance of the soldiers).
Owen speaks also about the role of the poet: he has to inform all the people who han't a direct experience of the war, the real war, in order to avoid other conflicts in future.

DULCE ET DECORUM EST
FIRST STANZA:
Description of a group of soldiers that are coming back from the battle.
Lines 1-2: there are two similes:
-"Bent double like old beggars under sacks" Tenor: soldiers; Vehicle: old beggars; Ground: the same appearance.
-"Coughing like hags" Tenor: soldiers; Vehicle: hags (witches); Ground: bad health.
Both these similies show us the war as something that transforms young people into old men.
Line 3: the soldiers are coming back from the battlefield.
Uh! Bernarddo cua Uh!The soldiers: -ha a bad health; -are bad equipped (Line 5 "Many had lost their boots"); -are tired (Line 5: "Men marched asleep" Line 7: "Drunk with fatigue"
Lines 7-8: the situation is dangerous because of the probability of a gas attack but the soldiers are too tired not to worry about this.

SECOND STANZA
As they are coming back there is a gas attackPanic
Lines 9-l0-l1-l2: They put on their masks just in time but someone doesn't put on his mask in time and so he shouts, he falls and he mos with great difficult because of the gas.
Simile: "like a man in fire of lime": -Tenor: the soldier that is dying; -Vehicle: a man in fire of lime; -Ground: they suffer. This simile expresses the suffering of that soldier.
Lines 13-l4: The poet sees the soldier drows in gas but he doesn't but he can't see the man ry well because of the misty panes of his helmet and also because of the green light, caused by the gas.
Simile: "green light as under a green see" : -Tenor: green light of gas; Vehicle: sea; Ground: colour. This simile expresses the contrast between the feeling of pleasure you associate with the sea and the tragic atmosphere because of the gas. (IRONY).
THIRD STANZA
This stanza is set in present. The poet, in all his dreams, continues to see the soldier that is falling towards him, guttering, choking, and drowning in the gas and he remembers that he couldn't help the soldier. This stanza wants to underline that the war didn't bring only material consequences (the death of the soldiers) but also psychological consequences (the poet can't forget that scene and continue to ha nightmares about it).
FOURTH STANZA
Lines 17-l8-l9-20: the poet addresses the reader and says: "If you ha seen what I ha seen behind the wagon where the dead soldier lays and if you ha seen his white eyes mo around in his face".
Simile: "his hanging face like a devil sick of sin": -Tenor: soldier's face; -Vehicle: devil's face; -Ground: the same expression of the face.
Lines 21-22-23-24: The poet is still addressing the reader and says "if you could hear the blood of the soldier come up gargling from his mouth at ery jump of the wagon".
Lines 25-26-27-28: the poet still addresses the reader calling him "my friend" and he says "If you ha seen what I' just told you and if you don't tell the children the old lie: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" this is a phrase of Horace . In these last lines the author is addressing to all the people who said that war ga glory and it was a positi thing.

SOUND DEVICES: -regular rhyme scheme. First stanza has a consonance in B and in D  hard and plosi sound. -Onomatopoeic words: choking, gargling.

LAY-OUT: Irregular because it has the function to underline the cruelty of the war while a regular lay-out would ha gi an idea of harmony.

URE OF SPEECH: similes that ha the function to underline the cruelty of the war.

LANGUAGE: realistic and cruel-raw
THIS POEM EMPHASISES THE CRUELTY, THE HORROR OF THE WAR, THROUGH A CRUEL LANGUAGE THAT SHOCKS THE READERS. IN THIS POEM WAR IS SEEN IN A NEGATIVE WAY: WAR IS VIOLENCE AND HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE IDEALIZE VISION PRESENTED BY BROOKE.

"THE PARABLE OF THE OLD MAN AND THE YOUNG"
This poem is a revision of the episode of Abram taken from Genesis.
The first part of the episode lacks of the speech of God to Abram. God said to Abram to took his son, to go to a mountain and to kill Isaac in order to demonstrate to God his faith.
The central part of the poem is almost the same of that of the bible except some words, while the end is completely different: in the bible Abram spares his son while here the old man kills his son. The man in the bible is AbraHam while in the poem he's Abram because while Abraham can be only the biblical character, Abram could be anyone.
Lines 1-2: Abram went and took the fire and a knife with him.
Lines 3-4-5-6: As Abram and Isaac reached the place , God had told Abram, Isaac asked where was the lamb for the sacrifice.
Lines 7-8-9: Abram bound his son with belts and straps and after having prepared parapets and trenches for the sacrifice, stretched the knife to kill his son.
Lines 10-l1-l2-l3-l4: An angel of God arrid and said to Abram not to kill his son but to take a ram (the ram of the pride), caught in a bushy nearby and to kill the ram instead of his son.
Lines 15-l6: Abram didn't do what the angel suggested him to do and killed his son and half of the young people of Europe instead of the ram of the pride.

LANGUAGE: As we can see Owen introduces some words (belt, straps, parapets, trenches, pride and Europe) to contextualize (=make it more modern) the text of the bible.
This poem is based on Symbols:
-Isaac: the young soldiers that died for their country, they did what the other people want them to do, they were innocent.
-Abram: old generation that sent their son to the war because of the pride, of the superiority of their nation.
-Ram: pride of England that is killed in the bible but not in the war.












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