Wilfred Owen - Poem Study

Wilfred Owen engages a modern audience because his ideas are still appropriate for a necessary understanding of the reality of war. In the poems “Anthem for Doomed Youth”, “Mental Cases” and “Dulce Et Decorum Est”, Owen draws attention to the trauma of war and gives voice to the marginalized shell-shocked soldiers. He does this through the use of manipulative techniques and devices to successfully communicate the brutality of war.

“Mental Cases” by Wilfred Owen offers a unique insight into the psychological warfare of the ordinary soldier. It highlights the sensitive, intelligent observations of a mind empathetic to the soldier’s dilemma. Owen wants the reader to experience the same exposure to carnage, so that their empathy is with these men, not to see them as cowards. This is given by the metaphor “sloughs of flesh” and personification “flying muscles”. This creates a terrible scene and gives a clear description on the theatre of war. Another quote like “Drooping tongues from jaws that slob their relish” underpins accurate images of psychological casualties in the war. Once again Owen conveys the sense of despair with overwhelming descriptions of war. The incorporation of the word “twilight” shows that the soldiers do not know where they belong, either in night, or day. This emphasises the innocence of many soldiers and puts the reader in a position to understand this concept.

“Anthem for Doomed Youth”, another poem by Wilfred Owen depicts two distinct worlds, the destruction of the battlefield and the civilised world at home. Owens concerns are the pity and waste of war as well as families back home, bringing resolution to their lives. Through the use of powerful adjectives, rhetorical questions and repetition, Owen positions us to realise how brutal, youth were treated at war, how WW1 killed and injured so many young men, and also for us to realise how much potential was lost for such an insignificant, resolvable issue. This is supported by the...