Wilfred Edward Salter Owen born 8 March 1893, died on 4 November 1918. Were an English soldier and poet (one of the leading poet in World War 1). Wilfred Owen was born at Plas Wilmot, a house in Weston Lane, near Oswestry in Shropshire, on 18 March 1893, of mixed English and Welsh ancestry. He was the eldest of four children, his siblings being Harold, Colin, and Mary Millard Owen.
Line By Line Interpretation
Lines 1-2 Beggars used to put everything they owned in some sort of sack which would then carry over their shoulder. The soldier, like the beggar is bent over in pain. The solider could also from the gas attack. “Knock- kneed,” suggest that the soldier is trying to keep his knees together and his feet wide apart as a way to keep him steady so that he can continue to walk. Owen compares to “old beggars” and “hags” as a way to say that the soldiers have lost their youthfulness due to fighting in this war. The symptoms listed here is due to a mustard gas attack; the solider experienced blisters, sore eyes, and vomiting.
The solider try to go back to camp to recover from the effects from the mustard gas attack. “Haunting flares” are the flashes of life that accompany artillery shell. “Distant rest” can be interpreted in two ways: first, when the soldier reaches camp they would be able rest and recovered from the attacks; the second interpretation could be death. It could take a while for a solider to die from exposure to mustard gas. “Limped on blood shots furthers the opinion that this was a mustard gas attack, because men would get sores over their bodies from being exposed to this gas.
Of course, it’s also possible that they were just hit with artillery fire but in keeping with the context of this poem it makes more sense that this would be an effect of some sort of gassing. “All blind” was another symptom of the attack; they eyes would become very inflamed and puffed up so that it would make it hard for them to see. “Five-nines” are the five point nine calibre shells that were fired on the British soldiers in this particular instant. When the shells were fired they made high pitched sound, described by Owen as hooting.
This is the part of the poem that describes a chlorine gas attack. “An ecstasy of fumbling” can be interpreted as the soldier so overwhelmed with being scared and nervousness that they are fumbling with their helmets while they were trying to put them on. The helmets here are referred to as mask gas. There were many varieties of gas mask during WWI; with each new development in gas war fare the helmets had to be adapted to protect the soldier. In the early days of chlorine gas attack, men would put damp cloths over their mouths and noses, which would reduce the effects of the gas on the men. Gas masks were later produced to protect soldiers from this gas.
This section can be read as nightmare. This scene of death haunts the narrator of this poem these men saw death every day and with the introduction war fare one could argue that death took on a whole new significance for them. The drawn out death of men expose to the gases will leave more of an impression of the mind of that of a quick death. More and more men had to be treated for post-traumatic stress disorder due to them not being able to deal with everything that they saw while they were enlisted the solider described here a slowly dying. (Line16) Lists all the actions that a person would do if their air supply was cut-off.
This section of the poem describes a soldier with post-traumatic stress would think. The narrator describes this dream as smothering like he is the one that is suffocating rather than the soldier. There was little that cloud be done for the soldiers once they were expose through this gas and that made that people feel really uneasy. “Like a devil’s sick of sin” could mean that the soldier was as tired as the devil of the sin that he and others took part in. “The bloods come gargling from the froth- corrupted lungs” is a very descriptive image that would probably make anyone sick to their stomach if they actually had to see it first-hand. This is an image that would stick with someone for a long time, haunting their memories. It is these kinds of memories that can cause post-traumatic stress disorder.
Owen is referring to Jessie Pope when he says “My friend.” He is telling her that is she knew the reality of the war she would not be propagandizing it to young men. Pope prays on the young men’s desire to be glorious heroes without telling them the ramifications of enlisting Significance of the Title
The title is significant because e it highlights the horror and reality of war especially on the first war. The war is reflected in the Latin word “DULCE ET DECORUM EST PRO PATRIA MORI”. This phrase can be translated as it is sweet and rite to die for your country. Owen states as an “Old Lie” and he illustrates this in the poem. His illustration of the reality war is that an incident of exhausted soldier studded through the mud of the soldiers. They are leaved the front line in order to rest for a few days in a safer place. However the group is attacked by mustard gas. One soldier was last in putting his mask. Owen describes the symptoms shown by7 the man as the poison slowly kills him.
Tone of the Poem
The tone of the poem is harsh due to the diction. “Coughing like hags”, “Curse through sludge” Poetic Devices “Bent double” is an example of an hyperbole it conveys the feeling of exhaustion felt by the soldiers, were carrying heavy packs and being sleepless in the trenches. Metaphor: “Drunk with fatigue” the feeling the soldier were having due to mustard gas effect Alliteration: “Knock-kneed coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge.” create and impression of panic an urgencies. Simile: “Like a man in fire or lime” to express the burning and blistering of the pain caused by the mustard when it came into contact with their skin. Rhyme: “Sacks –backs, sludge- trudge, boots-hoots”
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