Wilfred Owen


Wilfred Owen Essay, Research Paper

Wilfred Owen

Wilfred Owen was a famous British war poet in World War I. The horrible violence of war turned Owen into a poetic genius. In a two-year period during the war, Owen published only four of his poems, and grew from a negligible minor poet into a famous English-language poet. His poems were antiwar poems of his life in trench warfare.

Wilfred Owen the son of Tom and Susan Owen was born on March 18, 1893, in Oswetry, England. He was educated at the Birkenhead institute and at Shrewbury Technical School. At the age of 17, Owen began to show an interest in arts, and poetry. He worked as a pupil teacher at the Wyle Cop School while he was preparing for his exam to attend the University of London. After he failed the entrance exam he worked as an English teacher in the Berlitz School in Bordeaux.

Towards the end of 1914 and the beginning of 1915, Owen became aware of the rapid growth of the war, and he moved back to England in September 1915. In October he enlist in the Artists? Rifles. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Manchester Regiment (5th Battalion) in France in June 1916.

In January 1917, he saw his first site of trench warfare. He and his men were forced to hold a flooded dugout in no-man?s land for about fifty hours under heavy enemy bombardment. In March 1917, he was injured with a slight concussion and in April, he returned to the front line in France. In May, Wilfred Owen was badly injured during the Battle of Somme, when a shell landed about two yards away from him. After lying in a bomb crater for several days and being surrounded by his fellow officers? dead corpse, he was diagnosed with neurasthenia (shell shock). While he was in France, Owen began to write poems about his war experiences.

With his nerves shattered from the sight of war, he was sent to the Craiglockhart War hospital near Edinburg, Scotland. While he was recovering at the hospital, Owen met a poet by the name of Siegfried Sassoon, who was also a patient. Sassoon and Owen both shared their thoughts about the war. They also showed an interest in each other?s poetry. After reading each other?s poetry, and discussing it, Sassoon helped revolutionized Owen?s style. Sassoon suggested that Owen should write in a more direct style. With the help of Sassoon, Owen wrote a series of poems, including Anthem for Doomed Youth, Dulce et Decorum Est, and Strange Meeting in a couple of months.

During their stay at the hospital, Sassoon introduced Owen to H. G. Wells and Arnold Bennett, who helped get Owen?s poems published. Owen also met William Heinemann, and talked to him about getting a publication of a collection of his own poems.

Owen returned to his regiment at in the Western Front in August 1918. He was awarded the Military Cross for exceptional bravery during the Battle of Beaurevoir-Fousomm in October 1918. Owen died at the age of 25, while leading his men across the Sambre Canal on November 4, 1918. His parents received the news of his death on November 11, 1918, Armistice Day. Soon after his death, Sassoon managed for the publication of Owen?s Collected Poems in 1920.

Wilfred Owen is known for his anger of the government not telling the truth about the war. His direct style of poetry sets the mood and is highly used by other war poets. Today, Wilfred Owen still remains to be one of the best war poets in the world.

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