Under his helmet, up against his pack,
After so many days of work and waking,
Sleep took him by the brow and laid him back.
There, in the happy no-time of his sleeping,
Death took him by the heart. There heaved a quaking
Of the aborted life within him leaping,
Then chest and sleepy arms once more fell slack.
And soon the slow, stray blood came creeping
From the intruding lead, like ants on track.
Whether his deeper sleep lie shaded by the shaking
Of great wings, and the thoughts that hung the stars,
High-pillowed on calm pillows of God's making,
Above these clouds, these rains, these sleets of lead,
And these winds' scimitars,
-Or whether yet his thin and sodden head
Confuses more and more with the low mould,
His hair being one with the grey grass
Of finished fields, and wire-scrags rusty-old,
Who knows? Who hopes? Who troubles? Let it pass!
He sleeps. He sleeps less tremulous, less cold,
Than we who wake, and waking say Alas!
* written in November 1917 while he was in Craiglockhart as Killed Asleep
* Edited in May 1918
* In a letter to his cousin he described the downs that seemed filled with dead bodies, this is what inspired this poem
Stylistic devices, tone and mood:
1. Imagery: “under his helmet” makes helmet sound larger than it is, usually helmet is on his head
2.1. exaggeration underlines pity of the soldier, his only protection and support are his helmet and his pack => hard and uncomfortable
2.2. the use of pronoun “him” mystifies identity => device used by Owen to show that the soldier could be anyone but will remain unknown and forgotten by society
2. Alliteration: “work and waking”
3.3. repetition of sounds creates a rhythm
3.4. makes up an 11 syllable line making it much longer and strenuous to say then next line consisting of only 10 and mostly monosyllables => relaxation and ease when saying it mirrors idea of... [continues]
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