Poetry is a theme, which is used throughout the novel to create a more realistic portrait of life and feeling, rather than Barkers own expressions. This way characters can also reveal more of their personality, and get a chance to speak for their selves. Captain Arthur Brock was a doctor who employed ‘ergotherapy’ or connecting shell-shocked soldiers back to reality, by the use of work. Brock recommended to Owen that he should write poetry to assist in his recovery, which he did in ample amounts. Owen became the contributing editor of the hospital magazine ‘The Hydra’ (above).
Owen introduced himself to Sassoon, on the pretext of being an, ‘aspiring poet’. Sassoon both praised and criticised Owen’s poetry, but more importantly, he encouraged Owen to write about the war. Writing about his war experiences did not come easily to Owen. He had vivid nightmares and struggled with many of his images and issues. Initially, he imitated Sassoon’s style, but quickly abandoned it for a ‘voice’ of his own. “… he’s a gold medallist … and I left Cambridge without taking a degree. And now and again it shows ”
Owen doubts his ability compared to Rivers. This could be one reason why he hasn’t developed his poetry further as of yet. ” the way back to health is to re-establish the link between oneself and the earth … ” ‘Ergotherapy’ making patients work to take their mind from the war, through work, and in Owens case, through poetry. “that’s in your style” (Owen) Owen shows Sassoon how much he idolises Sassoon, by copying the ‘style’ of his writing, but Sassoon is not very impressed that Owens style cannot be used more creatively and suggests change. its not much good at the moment.
I suppose the thing is, are you interested enough to go on” (Sassoon) Here Sassoon tries to encourage Owen to carry on, “at the moment,” suggests a potential to his poems, as long as he knows Owen wants to carry on developing his own style. “its mad not to write about the war when its -” “such an experience. ” Here is a release of tension when both Owen and Sassoon laugh about the fact that war is such an “experience” to write about and that there is so much to write.
Sassoon is worried that Owen will not write, as his own experiences will upset him too much, but suggests he should, as the experience is the key to Owens good poems. “the fact that you admire somebody very much doesn’t automatically mean they’re a good model. ” (Sassoon) Sassoon is further encouraging the potentiality of Owens poetry and he should develop his own “model” and should not let admiration of other writers be reflected in your own works. ” I think that should go in the Hydra”
Sassoon feels that his advice and explaining to Owen how to start writing, is good enough to persuade Owen his poetry should go in the hospital magazine, The Hydra, by doing this Owen will be better known. I think Barker has included this discussion on poetry to illustrate Sassoon’s real influence on Owen, and describe to the reader how Owen was before he was famous. This discussion also allows us to see the developing relationship between Owen and Sassoon, and both the men and their poetry.