It was once said “poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words” (Edgar Allan Poe). The imagery in this poem is executed in a variety of ways that help capture the interest of the reader. The three dominant images of poisonous gas, choking, and gruesome death help portray the idea that in war there is no true valor or glory, just poor young soldiers that did not understand it’s consequences.
To begin, the author, Wilfred Owen, used a majority of the poem to focus on the use of gas. It uses the imagery of an overwhelming truth of war. In doing this, Owen wrote, “As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.” (14) This sets the image of chlorine gas, too strong to handle, taking the life of a soldier. It hits the reader with the “poisonous truth” that one has to be on their wits at all times in warfare, with the helmet being a symbol for preparedness. They were not prepared for the danger and fury of war; the men who didn’t adapt quick enough perished. For example, soldiers who didn’t put their gas masks on quick enough were engulfed in the gas and inhaled the poisonous fumes.
In addition, Owen uses a vast amount of metaphors to enhance the images that he is trying to portray, for example:
“But someone still was yelling out and stumbling And floundering like a man in fire or lime.” —Owen (11-12).
Taken literally, this statement describes the moment the narrator realizes a comrade of his has taken in the gas and is now choking. Metaphorically speaking, this segment of the poem describes the instant that a soldier becomes aware that everything is becoming real and it is not just a “glory-trip” anymore. This particular part of the poem also ties in with the metaphor of the helmets previously mentioned. While the helmet was a metaphor for preparedness, this metaphor continues off of that, as this is the moment where you need to be prepared. It would appear that the author is trying to convey the idea that in the First World...