The Parable of the Old Man and the Young

The Parable of the Old Man and the Young is a short poem written by Wilfred Owen in 1920, As the title mentions, the poem is a parable. It is generally accepted that the old man, Abram, represents the European nations or more probably their governments, the first view of the poem is that it is heavily based on the story Abram (Genesis 22:1-18), where Abram is told to sacrifice his son. In the story, as he was about to sacrifice his son as an offering to God, an angel comes down and tells him to stop and to sacrifice a lamb instead.

He does as he's told and makes a covenant with God saying that Abram will be the Father of a new nation.

But the twist in this poem is that when Abram is told by the angel to stop, he doesn't and kills his son. "But the old man would not so, but slew his son,/And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

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" The author also manages to include metaphors and symbolisms referring to a war. "Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps, /and builded parapets and trenches there. " This quote is clearly depicting an image of Isaac going unwillingly to war with the parapets and trenches. "When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,/ Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,/ Neither do anything to him.

Behold,/ A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;/ Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.

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" The quote symbolizes that all that all Abram has to do is give up his pride and not send his son Isaac to the gruesome war. "But the old man would not so, but slew his son,/ And half the seed of Europe, one by one. " I believe that Abram represents the government of Europe, drafting the people (Isaac) to go to their doom in war. Along with the rest of the population of Europe to die at war, heartlessly and without any regret all the government had to do was give up their "pride. Probably Europe lost the war.

The last two lines are the only ones that rhyme, and the image they paint is chilling: an old man methodically killing the seed of Europe. It is mainly the power of this image, set out in the poem and culminating in the last two lines, that makes it haunting. Recruiting Recruiting is a poem written by E. A. Mackintosh, who served in World War 1 until 1917 were he was killed at the Somme. Mackintosh’s poem is very bitter, heavily sarcastic and he aims to send a message to the people back in England who pressure young men to go to war.

The first word in the poem is “Lads” suggests youth and innocence, which contrasts how Mackintosh sees the people who set up the campaign as the “fat civilians” which shows emphasises of how these people could not fight the war themselves. The second stanza the poet supports how the “fat civilians” could not fight by quoting them saying “Could go and fight the Hun” Knowing they will never be in danger of doing anything of the sort as they “thank God they are over fourty one” The poet also attacks the shallow girls who are often seen as the reasons why men went off to die, to please them.

The girls are said to have feathers because they would give them to men who hadn’t joined up as a sign of cowardice. The songs are “vulgar songs” meaning they have little real emotion, they are shallow and crude. After the third stanza Mackintosh speaks of what the recruiting posters should say if they are honest: “the real picture of “shivering in the morning dew” and killing people “like yourselves. ” Which is a frequent theme that the Mackintosh wants the reader to know that the German soldiers were ordinary men just like them.

Mackibtosh also attacks the journalists as he belives that they like the war because the casualties give them something to talk about, this is shown in the line “Help o keep them nicee and safe” which is really bitter aimed at those who would send young men to die to protect their own comfort but who would do nothing about it themselves. The last line “Lad’s you’re wanted – out you go. ” Ends with a dismissive phrase after the dash to show how eagerly the civilians wanted the soldiers to go.

Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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The Parable of the Old Man and the Young. (2017, Feb 24). Retrieved from

The Parable of the Old Man and the Young essay
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