Expression of War
in “Strange Meeting”, “Anthem for a Doomed Youth”,
“Futility” and “Mental Cases”
by Wilfred Owen
The four poems “Futility”, “Mental Cases”, “Anthem for a Doomed Youth” and “Strange Meeting” by Wilfred Owen are all concerned with the physical and mental consequences of war. In the following these poems are being compared and analysed as to the question whether they treat basically the same themes or are of fundamental differences.
Owen, who volunteered to fight in World War I, witnessed the horrors of war himself. After traumatic experiences he was diagnosed as suffering from the shell shock and was sent home. In these poems, which were all written immediately after his war service, he confronts the reader with the horrors of war. As he says in his famous statement, his poems are not meant to be beautiful, as poetry was considered to be during this time, they rather create a vision of pity, futility and tragedy: “My subject is war and the pity of war. The poetry is in the pity.”
The poems “Anthem for a Doomed Youth”, “Mental Cases”, “Strange Meeting” and “Futility” all treat different dimension of war and its consequences. “Anthem for Doomed Youth” reminds readers that each one of the millions who died in World War I was an individual. The first line “What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?” points out, that innocent young men died not like human beings but were slaughtered like cattle.
“Mental Cases” shows the mental affects war can have. Owen often describes these as “unseen scars”. Even if you managed to get out of war alive, men might be mentally destroyed. This poem describes the tragedy of not being able to stop and help a dying men if you want to survive. “Always they must see these things and hear them” implies being constantly confronted with the horrors of death and even worse the inability to help. If men survived they often did on the expenses of others and this guilt is what they have to carry for the rest of their lives. This is so haunting that “sunlight seems a blood-smear” and ”night comes blood-black”.
- ISBN (eBook)
- 397 KB
- Institution / Hochschule
- Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster – Englisches Seminar
- poems owen strange meeting futility mental cases anthem for a doomed youth pity tragedy dimensions of war iambic meter melancholy harsh reality of war vocabulary