Wilfred Owen

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Owen is more famous for his angry and emotional poems such as Dulce, though his quieter poems can pack just a strong a punch. Futility has a barely controlled emotion to it, we are used to Owen questioning war and people but here he questions life itself. His desperation and hollow lack of hope, so resigned against life, is intensely emotional, beyond anger and beyond help. His use of sounds and assonance give the poem a quiet tone, almost as if the speaker is whispering. There is no appeal to God or to anyone, he includes no physically horrific imagery, but mentally tormenting ideas.

Religion is a recurring theme in Owen’s war poetry. The intensity of war can either bring crisis of faith (Futility) or spiritual revelation -‘ I too saw God through mud‘’ (Apolgia Pro Poemate Meo). But most poems seem to question God–‘ For love of God seems dying’ (Exposure). Then in‘ Futility’ the Christian idea of God is ignored and a more pagan view of nature and life is turned to. Futility ultimately questions life’s motives and offers neither religious comfort nor reasoning for war. In‘ Spring Offensive’ some of the imagery used echos passages of‘

Revelations’ in the bible–‘ And instantly the whole sky burned/ With fury against them; earth set sudden cups / In thousands for their blood’. In this same poem he adopts a sneering tone about belief in God–‘ Some say God caught them even before they fell’. But though the Christian church officials are criticised as hypocrites, and the rituals of Christianity are rejected (Anthem for Doomed Youth) many of the Christian values are supported. The church officials are depicted as hiding behind the church, and encouraging the soldiers to fight. The soldiers are the only true supporters of Christianity - prepared to die, the ultimate sacrifice.

Understandability of his poems was Owen’s main objective– in a letter to his mother in 1918 Owen states "I don’t want to write anything to which a soldier would...
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