Wilfred Owen; Introduction to Poetry

The coursework task set for the A2 English literature course entails a three thousand word essay on two texts and a poet. As previously mentioned the two novels that we will be studying for this, are ‘Catch 22’ and ‘Birdsong’. Now we begin work on the poetry aspect of the task. As the theme in all these pieces of literature is World War One the poet being studied is, Wilfred Owen, a leading poet of the First World War One.

Today was introduction to his works, beginning with his poem ‘Futility’, a poem narrated in third person in an almost story-like manner. The poem uses the semantic field of the sun awakening life and this is conveyed through extended oxymorons of religious and scientific language.

Owen’s work commonly features seven poetic devices. These can be seen in a number of his works and are what makes his poems identifiable:

  1. An opening that creates a scene
  2. Use of nature and religious language
  3. Questions – rhetorical
  4. Punctuation that evokes emotion
  5. Contrasts – extended oxymorons
  6. Para-rhyme that add melancholic sound
  7. Assonance

These seven features can be seen in not only ‘Futility’ but many other of Owen’s works and are what helps us distinguish his work from other World War One poets.



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