Making close reference to language, imagery and verse from, consider ways in which Owen portrays his views of the importance of camaraderie in ‘Apologia Pro Poemate Meo’
Apologia pro poemate meo means the reasons for my poetry and is about the friendships made throughout the war. As a response to Robert graves letter telling Owen ‘for god’s sake cheer up and write more optimistically’, and the more positive style is shown throughout the rhyme, metre and rhythm as it is all regular.
However the poem reads as a contradiction as it is merry yet still about the war. This upbeat tone throughout could also be portrayed as sarcastic.
I will be referring to insensibility as it is a contrast to this poem and gives a different view on how men cope in war. I will also refer to strange meeting as it gives a twist to importance of camaraderie, as the man he killed whom he meets in hell, shows they are more likely friends rather than enemies.
The importance of camaraderie is highlighted throughout apologia pro poemate meo, ‘Merry it was to laugh there’ shows that even though war is such a horrific place, the friendships between the men overcame this and made it enjoyable and ‘merry’. The use of paradox is to show the juxtaposition of war and friendships: ‘Found peace where shell-storms spouted reddest spate. ‘. Here, Owens uses of sibilance, shows the soldier has found peace in the battlefield, which is absurd as shells are falling all around them, but again, it shows that the friendships made are so powerful, they make war seem less horrific as it is.
Religious imagery is used as well to highlight the importance of camaraderie: ‘I, too, saw God through mud-‘. Here, to see god could also refer to seeing hope, as soldiers prayed to god for help and safety on the battlefield, so this soldier has seen hope in the war as his friendships made, make it worth baring. However, Owen could be using sarcasm here, as Graves told him ‘to cheer up and write something worthwhile’, but war is a horrific and dreary matter. To write of war as something cheery would wrong in all sense.
This links to a further point, as towards the end of the poem, Owen again, shows his true feelings towards Jessie Pope (the pro-war propaganda poet). ‘You shall not come to think them well content /by any jest of mine’. Here, Owen has a dig towards Jessie Pope, as she writes as if war was a game, yet has never experienced it, so she can’t judge their wellbeing. This links to yet a further point; Owen links to the Romantics here, as he was inspired by them: ‘I have perceived much beauty /in the hoarse oaths that kept our courage straight’, however, like Pope, they did not experience war and wrote about it as ‘beauty’ and that it was honourable to fight for your country, so again he dislikes them for this.
Owen’s use of sibilance is another method of portraying how important camaraderie was in war. ‘For love is not the binding of fair lips /with the soft silk of eyes that look and long’, here Owen tries to tell us that the fellowships he made were much stronger than friends, it was brotherly love. Owen believed that the friendships made in war had the strongest bond ever achieved, as the men fought cried and died amongst each other.
When referring to other poems, Insensibility portrays a different way on how men coped with war, instead of the fellowships, they block off emotion. The use of metaphor here portrays this well: ‘Happy are men who yet before that are killed/can let their veins run cold’, this shows that the men who can block off all emotion before their death are happy ones, yet ones who don’t will not be. Insensibility goes further to say ‘cursed are the dullards whom no cannon stuns’, is it worth the price, if you’re blocking off emotion.
Strange meeting also portrays the importance of camaraderie in war, as it is about an officer who killed an enemy soldier, and when he is dead and goes to hell they are reunited and realise they have more in common as friends, then they did as enemies. ‘I am the enemy you killed my friend’ shows that even though they were enemies, after walking through hell, he recaps and wonders whether they are friends. When he reaches hell, the soldier who he killed recognizes him and ‘lifting distressful hands, as if to bless’. This religious imagery shows that the soldier forgives him and they are better to be friends than enemies.
In conclusion, Owen portrays his views of the importance of camaraderie in Apologia Pro Poemate Meo very effectively. Throughout the selection, no other poem goes into such greater detail about the fellowships made in war. The use of imagery, metaphor and the linkage to other poets shows how he truly felt about the friendships made in war and how important they were to the survival and sanity of the men. Insensibility shows us a different view on how important camaraderie was, as it takes the view that being able to block out emotion is the vital thing that will get you through war. Finally, Strange Meeting adds further to the point that camaraderie is important as even though as enemies in war, in death they become friends, to comfort each other for the rest of eternity. Eventhough portrayed effectively, it is not portrayed throughout, and so Apologia Pro Poemate Meo is the most effective from the selection.