Owen and Sassoon

“Owen and Sassoon’s imagery is often chosen to suggest the horrors of war, the inadequacies of religion and the validity of love and grief.” Discuss
  * Horror of war (brutality, role of nature)
  * Inadequacy of religion (loss of faith in religion, country, government)
  * Validity of love and grief (real, correct, importance of camaraderie and acknowledgement of the men who were lost, shell shock, physical disabilities)
War is the focus of Owen and Sassoon’s poetry in particular, The Parable of The Old Man and The Young and Attack respectively. Both poets cover common themes such as the brutality or horror of war, the role of religion in promoting war and then in providing inadequate comfort for the traumatised soldiers and the importance of the mateship and acknowledgement of the injured veterans. These themes reinforce the poets’ belief in the futility of war and a variety of images and poetic techniques are employed to convey this belief.
In The Parable of the Old Man and The Young, Owen exposes the horror of war through a biblical parable. The poem on the surface is the story of Abraham sacrificing his son, Isaac, in order to prove his faith to God only to have God stay (stop) Isaacs’ execution. It is an allegory for the various governments involved in World War One and their willing sacrifice of their sons. The archaic language of ‘clave’ ‘spake’ ‘builded’ used reinforces that the sacrifice of the young by the old, for whatever beliefs, has been occurring since time immemorial and that lessons are not learnt. The brutality of what is to come is evident in the preparation of ‘fire and iron’ and ‘burnt-offerings’. The war jargon sees the modern story of war depart from the biblical version. The youth is bound in ‘belts and straps’ and ‘parapets and trenches’ are ‘builded’. This highlights the unnaturalness of war and its instruments. The word choice of ‘slay his son’ adds to the force of death and the sibilance reinforces the speed and deliberate...