An Analysis of Exposure by Wilfred Owen

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International Baccalaureate World Literature
Analysis - "Exposure" by Wilfred Owen

The poem "exposure" by Wilfred Owen is written in Winter of 1917. It portrays the message of the real enemy of the soldiers being the cold and icy conditions. Moreover, it provides us with a lively description of the persistent cold and awful conditions during one of the worst winters in the first world war. It shows that most of the soldiers were exposed rather than shot by enemies. The poem portrays all the opposing facts to make young men not join the war as it is nothing heroic. Owen uses all his senses to describe the frosty atmosphere and sets a lamenting and descriptive tone. The rhyme scheme is ABBA and the stanzas are continuous, emphasizing the continuous suffering of the British. It is written in first person plural, which makes us feel with the soldiers and put ourselves into their position.

The poem starts off with "Our brains ache, in the merciless iced east winds that knive us...". The assonantal "i" sounds in the words "brains", "merciless", "iced", "winds" and knive" evoke a hushing sound of the cold wind blowing around the trenches. Furthermore, these sounds are very sharp and knifing and could have a relation with the weather being sharper and more violent than the soldiers' weapons. It also conveys an image of water crystals freezing on the soldiers' beards. In the next line, the wind is again emphasized and shows in a wailing move with the alliterated "w" sounds; "Wearied we keep awake...". The third line of the first stanza has assonantal "o" sounds in the words "Low, drooping flares". This evokes an image of the wind moaning at the soldiers and trying to metaphorically scare them. Also, the "flares" make us think of the poem "Dulce Et Decorum Est" where the flares are also used to illustrate danger and uncertainty. In the penultimate line, the soldiers are "Worried by silence, sentries whisper, curious, nervous,...". The sibilant "s"...
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