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Do Owen And Frost Show The Futility Of Young Lives In Their Poems?

Categories: LiteraturePoems

In both poems “Out, Out” and “Disabled” there is a common theme of loss and futility portrayed. Both protagonists suffer a physical loss in an accident at a young age, the suffering caused to the youth’s lives post-accident makes the audience sympathize with their unfortunate circumstances. The poem structures differ when compared to one another; “Out, Out- “is a narrative, unrhymed poem whereas “Disabled” is mainly a rhymed poem using ten beats per line and iambic pentameter. However, similarly, Owen and Frost use stylistics such as metaphors, flashbacks, sensory appeal, irony, and diction to capture the tragedy and loss in both protagonists” lives.

The title “Out, Out” is an allusion to “Macbeth”, and comes from the famous soliloquy that begins, “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow”. Owen has chosen a shorter quote, being the title “Out, Out”, from the sentence in the soliloquy “Out, Out- brief candle”. This is because the candle symbolizes life and the boy’s life is brief, therefore a shortened title shows the shortness of the boy’s life and the boy’s sudden death.

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The boy is careless which causes him to lose one of his limbs in an accident causing a great tragedy like the story of Macbeth, both showing the boy’s and Macbeth’s character flaws. After the incident takes place, people go back to their lives emphasizing the meaningless and futility of the boy’s future life.

The poem begins with setting the scene by language in a lyrical, iambic rhythm. The scene is set as lovely, “sweet-scented stuff” with the use of sibilance to help the audience imagine.

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The poem later breaks (line 7) with the use of caesura “rattled, snarled and rattled” which is zoomorphism and onomatopoeia to help the audience hear the noises repeat in their head building up the tension. This changes the scene to more dark and sinister with the repetition of the buzz saw creating an image of anticipation like a predator about to pounce on its prey.

Frost later describes the boy as “Doing a man’s work, though a child at heart” showing the waste of a youth’s life all because of age. This frustrates the readers as it is arguable that it was not the boy’s fault that he was in his unfortunate position as he was not old enough to know better, “Then the boy saw all- Since he was old enough to know now”. Frost is portraying the waste of a life and pointlessness of working above your age. The boy’s family could also be blamed for the incident, “Call it a day, I wish they might have said” showing that the boy was forced to work in dangerous conditions and to simply “Call it a day” would have saved his young life. It makes the readers feel like the incident could have been easily provoked and puts the blame on the family and in a guilty position. This quotation is also written in the first person creating a personal connection with the boy and the reader directly like a cry for help whilst the reader is helplessly watching the tragedy.

The poem ‘disabled’ is a World War 1 poem written in the 1910s by Wilfred Owen. It tells the story of a young boy who becomes a soldier and loses his limbs post-war. He becomes disabled and experiences public humiliation and discrimination. This isolates him from the rest of the world and turns his head against himself as he regrets the thoughtless decision to go to war. The title is blunt and to the point unlike “Out, Out- “, “Disabled” gives the readers an instant insight to negativity with little background meaning about it apart from an uncomfortable feeling. Although the poem is very dark and sinister like “Out, out- “, there are no deaths involved throughout “Disabled” but the story is told as unhappy from the beginning. ‘shivered in his ghastly suit of grey” portraying the protagonist as a freak show and ugly and sickly as he is “waiting for dark” showing he just wants the day to be over because he has no meaning to his life anymore. This shows the futility of life after the war.

Owen portrays that dying is easy and living is hard throughout the first stanza, “legless, sewn short at elbow”. The more solid avoids happy thoughts as he knows that he can never be happy again showing a waste of life. He consumes himself with darkness as it pleases him, “Voices of play and pleasures after day”. The protagonist’s naivety is shown as the “liked a blood-smear down his leg” and was proud of his football injuries showing his manliness attracting the opposite sex. Thus, creating irony because he is not proud of his war injuries now nor will he “feel again how slim Girls waists are”. This shows the boy’s nave decision to go into the war and the waste of his youth.

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Do Owen And Frost Show The Futility Of Young Lives In Their Poems?. (2019, Nov 25). Retrieved from

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