What is war? is it the heroic act that we have always been told? Or have pretty lies misguided our judgement? I’m going to expose the truths of war to you, through the use of Wilfred Owens poetry. Owens poetry gives insights into the futility, realities and the extent of human suffering within warfare. Shattering the idea of heroism while educating the public on the truths of war. This is heavily shown throughout Owens poetry through an array of literary techniques. Yet today I will only focus on only 2, the poems ‘futility’ and anthem for doomed youth’.
Owen speculates on whether events are really happening as it seems like a horrific dream, while questioning if his hope is worth it. The use of affectionate personification of the sun thought-out the poem ‘futility’ which highlights the soldiers hopeless, hope, that they hold for their dead friend. This is communicated through the use of simple and naive language in the quote ‘ if anything might rouse him now the kind old sun will know’, which shows us the soldiers desperation and refusal to accept the truth of the situation, how their youth has been taken from them and replaced by their new reality and the harsh experiences of warfare.
This coupled with the symbolic nature of the quote ‘Always it woke him, even in France. ’ Which highlights that even in such a hellish place natural progressions continue despite the unnatural nature of warfare. Owen directly and forcefully criticising the brutality of war successfully disproving the idea that war creates a man and exposing the waste of young life along with the true extent of human suffering caused.
This is highlighted throughout the poem “anthem for doomed youth’ which instantly uses an ironic title to illustrate there is no reason to celebrate war, while beginning the confront the truth that warfare is neither heroic nor noble. This is communicated through the simile ‘die as cattle’ which highlights the view that these soldiers can be used as menial creature under the command of their government while also being sent to slaughter, even if these men come out alive they have been permanently aged and scarred due to the brutality of warfare.
This coupled with the use of alleration and onomatapia within the quote ‘only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle’ which builds the sound of the battlefield while adding a quick pace signifying how young lives are burning up at that same quick pace. Owen continually challenges the beliefs that war is a noble act, the experiences of war have made him begin to view human existence as a negative while leaving them questioning the value of existence as negative while questioning his faith.
The poem ‘futility’ confronts the audience with reality of war while leaving them questioning the value of existence. The quote ‘woke, once, the clays of a cold star. ’ Emphasises the fact that the sun is a giver of life on such a massive scale yet cannot bring his friends out of the cold slumber, it cannot bring him back to life. This coupled with the rhetorical question ‘was it for this the clay grew tall? ’ which sends a clear statement of futility, as if asking if the joke is on them, for even trying?
Owen wants the reader to understand the pretence of war and the fact that the loss is ultimately self inflicted, due to ignorance. This poem is one of Owens most distressed and bitter poems as it highlights the hopeless loss and how it could have been avoided if only the real truths of war had been exposed. Owens use of his wartime experience throughout his poetry highlights and reveals the futility, reality and extent of human suffering created by warfare. What is war? Do you still see it in the same way? Or has the poetry of Wilfred Owen opened your eyes to the wasteful reality’s of war?