The Sentry by Wilfred Owen
The Sentry is a very vivid poem by Wilfred Owen who fought during world war one. It describes the harsh and horrendous conditions the soldiers endured during the trenches. The poem focuses on a particular memory of a sentry who endured severe injuries during a blast whilst on duty. The fact that this poem is a real life experience makes it even more poignant. The very first line of the poem brings into realisation the abysmal conditions of the trenches the soldiers encountered. It starts off as almost conversationally with a slight understated menace in ‘’and he knew’’. The poem starts off with the use of iambic pentameter but when the regular rhythm descends into chaos other examples of pentameters such as trochaic are used like in line 4. The use of more than one form of pentameter reflects the turmoil and action on the battlefield. In line 2 the pentameter is interrupted with a caesura creating a disjointed effect. The opening lines use a combination of repetition and rhyme ‘…hell, for shell on frantic shell’ and ‘hour by hour...sour’ this establishes a cadence. Owen personifies the weaponry when he mentions ‘frantic shell’. This shows how soldiers where devalued and could suggest that they were considered nothing more than entities to the government just like the weapons. The word ‘Frantic’ creates a chaotic image in the readers mind blurring the distinction between objects and humans. ‘Hammered on top’ describes the relentless shelling and attacks by the enemies also later depicted later with ‘the shrieking air’, a kind of personification which detonates the screaming of the air which is banshee like. The word ‘guttering’ is a use of an onomatopoeia which gives the metaphor more of an effect and also puts more emphasis on the quantity and noise of the water. ‘Waterfalls’ is plural which suggests the abundant quantity of the water which must’ve turned the mud into slime, painting an image of how dirty the trenches where....
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