Jobyhow does Wilfred Owen portray his experience of going into war?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I actually love Wilfred Owen's poetry, even though it is so heavily centered on war—a topic that I don't particularly like. His writing, however is beautiful and impactful. He is able to contradict the propoganda that was fed to the public about how noble fighting was, having seen the horror on the battlefield—death and destruction that would ultimately take his young life shortly before the end of World War I. As mentioned by others, perhaps his most powerful poem is "Dulce et Decorum Est," which describes Owen's fellow soldiers dying horrible deaths by the enemy's use of poisonous gas: a terrifying glimpse into a war long past. He also, however, while lifting up the brave men who fought and died beside him, reminds the reader's to avoid glorifying or romanticizing war: there is nothing glorious in death—regardless of what the papers reported, and the opinions of society.

Owen's poetry is especially powerful because of the concise and fearful imagery he uses to convey what he experienced. It is impossible (I think) to try to casually read Owen's poems and try to reamin untouched by them—in a very strong and lasting way.

vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I love Owen's poetry. "Dulce et Decorum Est" is one of the most powerful poems I know.  This summer I spent some time reading many of Owen's other poems, and one that I can highly recommend to you is called "Disabled." This poem describes the fate of a young soldier who manages to make it back from the war, missing two legs and one arm. Owen's descriptions of death are highly memorable; here, however, he depicts a young man who will have to cope for the rest of his life with the effects of war.

The final lines of the poem are especially moving. As he sits outside a military hospital in the gathering groom, the young man recalls events from earlier in the day:

Tonight he noticed how the women's eyes

Passed from him to the strong men who were whole.

How cold and late it is! Why don't they come

And put him to bed? Why don't they come?

Part of the power of this poem lies in its depiction of what the lives of warriors can be like after the war is over.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If you have a look at a poem like "Dulce et Decorum Est," you can see the ways in which Owen's poetry tries to convey the true horror of war and how it was not as so many people had imagined it to be. This poem would make an excellent study to look at in terms of how Owen tries to convince his audience of the "old lie" that it is proud and honourable to die for your country. In particular, think about the change of person and how it moves from third person to first person to second person.

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One thing Owen does is call attention to the fact that World War I was a devastating war the likes of which the planet nor humans had ever seen before. As was confirmed by other writers, WWI ripped apart the participants lives, social structure, cities and homes, and even the very ground they walked upon.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator


The way I look at it, Owen saw the world as a beautiful and curious place before the war. War made him a bit more bitter. He tries to portray the war accurately, but also showcase beauty such as it is. He is looking for both a dose of reality and escape.