Analysis of Asleep by Wilfred Owen

English Assessment  
Asleep by Wilfred Owen

Under his helmet, up against his pack,
After so many days of work and waking,
Sleep took him by the brow and laid him back.
There, in the happy no-time of his sleeping,
Death took him by the heart. There heaved a quaking
Of the aborted life within him leaping,
Then chest and sleepy arms once more fell slack.
And soon the slow, stray blood came creeping
From the intruding lead, like ants on track.

Whether his deeper sleep lie shaded by the shaking
Of great wings, and the thoughts that hung the stars,
High-pillowed on calm pillows of God's making,
Above these clouds, these rains, these sleets of lead,
And these winds' scimitars,
-Or whether yet his thin and sodden head
Confuses more and more with the low mould,
His hair being one with the grey grass
Of finished fields, and wire-scrags rusty-old,
Who knows? Who hopes? Who troubles? Let it pass!
He sleeps. He sleeps less tremulous, less cold,
Than we who wake, and waking say Alas!

Poetic Devices and Form

Wilfred Owen uses the poetic device personification to make the message of the poem clear to the reader. A clear example of this is the personification of death. As death is an abstract idea, it can be hard for the reader to visualise what it looks like and what it means, so, Wilfred uses personification to give it human qualities and represents it as this dominant force over the soldier. A specific example of this in the poem is "Death took him by the heart." This line depicts death taking away the soldiers heart, this means that death took away all that he loves such as his friends and family.

Wilfred owen uses the poetic device imagery to paint a clear image in the reader's mind about what fighting on the front lines of WW1 was like. Wilfred particularly uses imagery to emphasise the difficulty of being a soldier and to show us the passing of a soldier in their sleep and their ascension to what is supposedly heaven. As shown with the...