Wilfred Owen

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Does Owens poetry do more than offer the reader an insight into the horrors of war? Discuss with reference to at least two poems.
Wilfred Owen is arguable the greatest of the world war one poets. This is a man who through personal experience offers us not only insight into the astrocities of war but also illustrates the struggle of nature and the mental state these men cross into on the battle field. In ‘Spring Offensive', Owen mixes the ideas of war and nature in a conversational tone unlike ‘Futility' in which Owen questions the pointlessness of war and religion in this compact poem. Owen shows us the physical horrors of war very effectively yet his poems stretch beyond that and delve into the unspoken shames where life itself is questioned.

Owen's poem the Spring Offensive explores the unnatural offensive of war against spring or nature. Opening with ‘Halted against the shade of a last hill' Owen suggests both the calmness of the ‘shade' and the deadly implication of ‘last'. The horror of war is not only the ‘hot blast and fury of Hells upsurge' of stanza 6 but also ‘the sun, like a friend with whom their love is done' of stanza 4.

Written in a conversational tone, Spring Offensive illustrates the physical horrors of the men experienced in war as they ‘leapt to swift unseen bullets…….or plunged and fell away past the world verge.' The oxymoron in stanza 7 ‘superhuman inhumanities' , the fantastic acts of horror, implies in war that hero and the devil are one and the same. Yet although Owen gives us insight into such horrors he does much more in his questioning of god and his imagery of nature in projecting the feelings of men at war. As it is said ‘nothing concentrates a mans mind more than his own execution'

‘to face the stark blank sky beyond the ridge' suggests the questionable future namely the heavens and god. This imagery is continued in stanza 5 with the double meaning of ‘earth set sudden cups in thousands...
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