In this commentary, we will take a deep look into this poem that Wilfred Owen wrote. In the poem, a group of soldiers are described, and their emotions. Using three guiding questions, this will be an introduction into the way Owen writes his poems. Answering these guiding questions will give the reader the full package that the poem has to offer. The first guiding question that is to be answered is: How are the feelings amongst the soldiers described? First of all, one can say the soldiers all feel as if they were torn apart. This is notable in the way the soldiers ‘cursed through sludge’, and how the ‘men marched asleep’.
Despite their fatigue, the group of men still have a strong bond, as they did not think only of themselves while shouting ‘gas! GAS! Quick, boys! ’. This explains they are prepared to share their senses, and not keep them to themselves only. The bond between the soldiers is also notable when they all watch their mate slowly die, while they can do nothing about it. The way the soldier feels while seeing his friend’s death, makes him (and probably his mates) feel that dying for their country, and seeing others die, isn’t all that honourable. The second aspect of the poem that needs to be looked at is the atmosphere that the writer calls up.
This atmosphere can be described as a dynamic one. It goes from the gray and darker mood to a fast-paced one, while ending in the depressing situation of a friend’s death. The gray and dark atmosphere is found in the way the soldiers ‘limped on, blood-shod’ through the land. The group was ‘drunk with fatigue,’ and didn’t have the energy to walk in a faster pace. In line 9 however, the mood shifts as the ‘green sea’ of gas approaches the soldiers. Described as an ‘ecstasy,’ the men fought against the time and put on their helmets as soon as possible, to avoid death.
The poem starts it’s depressing atmosphere in line 15, where the soldiers behold the death of their friend. They want to do anything to save him, but were hopeless, so they ‘flung him in’ the wagon, and watched ‘the white eyes writhing in his face. ’ Owen leaves the reader with the same emotions the soldiers felt, the fact that they felt betrayed by their country. Lastly, a look needs to be taken into the poetic devices in the poem, and how they contribute to the message. The most notable thing in this area is the way Owen shocks the reader. The message itself describes ‘the old lie’ that dying for your country would be sweet and fitting.
Owen wants the readers to understand how many people really care for one soldier’s death. In the last paragraph it’s almost clearly stated how one would feel while dying for their country. The dying soldier leaving behind ‘his hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin’ would give an image of how he would be dying his painful death. The reader could imagine the pain the soldier has, and how the other soldiers around him would feel. These three given answers on the guiding questions should give you a more in depth look into the poem, and give one understanding to the questions the reader might have himself.
Courtney from Study Moose
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