Wilfred Owen Poetry: British Analysis
Wilfred Owen’s most memorable, and often cited, works reveal several characteristic traits. Romantic imagery dominates his work, regardless of whether it is war-inspired. Owen was a passionate disciple of Keats; he made pilgrimages to Keats’s shrines and felt a personal affinity for the great Romantic poet. There is also brutal realism in Owen’s war descriptions. Had Owen not been there himself, the reader might be tempted to believe the verse exaggerated, such is its power. The poetry is also characterized by the sensual glorification of male beauty and bravery, and the hideous waste of wartime slaughter. Such elements have prompted a plentitude of conjecture about Owen’s personal relationships; but the sentiment with which he glorifies male qualities in his early years and the depth with which he expressed his concern for his fellows in his war years are not, in his case, cause for prurient speculation by the psychological critics. The simple fact concerning Owen’s poetry is that he wrote about his comrades in ways that were never offensive and always eloquent.
Innovations and experiments with the potential of language give Owen’s best work a quality that is more of the modernistic than the Edwardian or Georgian temper. In spite of its strength and ferocity, however, there is an equally noticeable fragility. Owen’s earliest extant attempts at poetry (according to Jon Stallworthy, it is probable that his...
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