Wilfred Owen now one of the most well known and admired poets of the last century shocked and intrigued the country with his horrific war poetry. The government had fed the country visions of a glorious and heroic war and Owen was one of the first to show the reality of what trench life on the front was really like. Two of Owens most famous poems are Exposure and Dulce et Decorum Est. Each poem gives the impression of the horrors of war and that in fact it is not how the government have led us to believe.In Exposure Owen shows the pointlessness of war and how men suffered so much pain and misery for such a pathetic cause and are used as merely human sacrifices who’ inevitable end is death.
He also shows how war is so slow and that the men’s main foe was the weather and harsh conditions at times rather than the vision of a fast pace action packed glorious battle that ended in victory as so many where led to believe. Dulce et Decorum Est similar in many ways to Exposure as it’s main message is that the saying Dulce et Decorum Est is a lie and that it is not sweet and fitting to die for ones country rather it is the opposite as he shows in the poemThe use of first person narrative used by Owen is highly effective as instead of saying how it was for someone else Owen can convince his reader by showing that he was there and knows what it was like. Owens tone in both poems is bitter and resentful of the war as for example in Exposure how he repeats the sentences “But nothing happens” and “What are we doing here” showing his hatred and anger of the position he and the other soldiers have been put in. In Dulce et Decorum est there are four stanzas with one short two line verse and three longer verses of about nine lines.
The effect of the short two-lined verse is that it emphasises the meaning of the verse and by singling it out draws attention to the fact that the soldier had such a terrible and un-dignified death.The pace of the poem is quite slow and even, which gives a marching effect thus establishing a military feel and a sense of order. Exposure is quite an evenly versed poem with stanza ending with an indented and often repeated particularly powerful line that inhances the meaning of the poem and the slow speed at which everything is happening for the soldiers, the repetition of the final line has the effect of reminding you how slow and agonising war is and that it is not ardent with glory.
. In each poem Owen uses a rhyming scheme every two or so lines this has the effect of holding the stanzas together and creating an evenly balanced poem. Also the rhyme is perhaps mirroring the verse of government propegander poetry and is a dark parallel.The use of language in Owens poems helps the reader to relate to his experiences and really visualise what it must have been like and what he must have been going through. Owen uses degrading imagery of the soldiers as “Bent double like old beggars under sacks” and “Knock-kneed like old hags we cursed through sludge.” in Dulce et Decorum Est, and by comparing them to old beggars and hags erases this image of proud tall soldiers.
Owen creates fantastic yet horrifying images of the conditions in Exposure of “merciless iced east winds that knife us” implying using the metaphor of the wind knifing them that the weather is their enemy rather than the Germans.Wilfred Owens poems are fantastically written by a man whose talent was wasted in the war that he so effectively wrote about. His poems unlike so many really have the ability to make you shudder as you are transported to places of sadness pain and anguish. Owen manages to change any previous views you have of war and make you feel ashamed of the days when you would dream as a young boy of fighting properly and not with plastic guns. It is this ability to make you think about war and imagine what it was like that regrettably many memorial services cannot that makes his poems so special and set them apart from the rest