War Poems


War Poems Essay, Research Paper

Question:In what specific ways do Wilfred Owens? poems attempt to dispel the illusions about the war represented in the art on pages 367-368?

As the First World War raged through Europe many of the countries involved used posters to draw people to the cause. The posters located in the Human Record showed scenes of happiness and patriotism. People were seeing these posters and assuming that war was similar to them. But, on the other hand, Wilfred Owens was writing poetry that truly portrayed the war how it actually was.

The war poster by B. Hennerberg showed young soldiers in a train getting ready to leave. Everyone is smiling and excited in the picture, even though they are going off to a bloody battle in which many of them will not make it home. The poem by Wilfred Owens that contradicts this poster is called Disabled. This poem tells the story of a young Scottish soldier that was wounded in the war and lost his legs. The young man just sits in his wheelchair all day listening to the voices of the people in the park, silently wishing that he could once again join in the fun and games. But, because of the war and the posters used to encourage enlistment, the soldier will never again be able to live like the happy people in the park. Owen makes reference to the fact that when the soldier left there was big deal about the young boys going off to war. But, as the legless soldier returned home, only a few people welcomed him. The poem also told of how the young soldier fought for his country?s freedom and only one man actually thanked him for his bravery and courage. The Scottish soldier lost his legs in the war and the only thing his got was a gray suit and a wheelchair that will never leave the institution in which it sits now. The boy lost everything and most people didn?t realize that he would have to give it up.

In the second poem of Wilfred Owens? is titled Dulce Et Decorum Est . The title means how sweet and fitting it is to die for one?s country. This poem tells the story of a poison gas attack. Unlike the war posters, the poems portray the unhappy and painful story of the gas attack that fatally injured a man. The poison gas tears up the lungs causing the person that inhales it to literally drown in the blood in the lungs, ??the blood come gargling from the froth corrupted lungs?? The only thing the other soldiers could do was watch as this man gasped for air and choked on his own blood. The dying soldier was taken away in a wagon and that was the last time the other soldiers saw him. Owens knew that no poster was going to show the real truth behind the war. He wrote from first hand experiences because he was a soldier for the British army.

Wilfred Owens? poems painted a mental picture for the people who read the poems that looked nothing like the posters. The posters showed of happy times and smiles while the poems showed the dark side of the war with the gas attacks and the disabled going home. Every country involved lost many men and young boys, but maybe if people had portrayed the war as it actually was ? bloody, horrified, dirty, and dark ? so many young boys wouldn?t have thought it was brave to enlist. Almost 60 million soldiers were killed in the First World War, including Wilfred Owens. He was killed one week before the armistice on November 4, 1918. His poems told the truth without the glamour.

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