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    Disabled and Exposure are poems written by Wilfred Owen during the First World War Essay

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    “Disabled” and “Exposure” are poems written by Wilfred Owen during the First World War. Although they are both written about the same subject they show different aspects of war. “Disabled” centres on the thoughts and feeling of a man who has survived the war and how his life changed after becoming disabled. “Exposure” shows the consequences of war and describes life in the trenches and the weather that the soldiers were exposed to. Although both pieces are different they both show the mental and physical suffering of the soldiers on the front line and the terror of war.

    Exposure” is based on a group of men and how they managed to survive the conditions of winter on the front lines. The structure of the poem is in eight verses that describe the slow process of death. The larger verses at the end build up very gloomy and depressing pictures of the conditions and circumstances they faced. There is no colour in the poem and phrases that are used give a very dull, dark, grey morbid image of life at the front. The last line of each verse throughout the poem is shorter than the others and is either a question or a statement.

    For example, “Is it that we are dying” and “We turn back to our dying”. The first verse is about the night times and is about the soldiers on guard duty, and how they felt in the cold weather. We know that it is icy cold from the line, “Our brains ache in the merciless iced east winds”. This is also an example of personification as it implies the winds are human and cruel. It also says that the soldiers are worried by the silence around them and although exhausted cannot sleep because they are so anxious. Their feelings are shown clearly in this line, “Wearied we keep awake because the night is silenta€¦.

    They also felt “curious and nervous” showing that they were brave, and stayed there because they had no choice. In the second verse the soldiers are starting to think, “What are we doing here? ” This gives us the impression that they feel the whole thing is pointless and wonder what it is they are fighting for as they are watching and waiting for the enemy. “But nothing happens” shows that they want some action even if it means being killed in combat as they do not want to die a slow death caused by the bitter weather conditions. It highlights their boredom and constant waiting for something to happen.

    In verse three, the line “Dawn massing in the east her melancholy army” describes the dawn as an army gathering in the east where the sun rises. This is also a good example of personification as dawn is made out to be in human form gathering its men together. “Attacks once more in ranks on shivering ranks of grey”. This line creates a picture of the sun getting stronger and shining on the soldiers who are cold and terrified. This verse focuses a lot on some of the weather conditions, and morning time. It uses very descriptive words to create a good image. The fourth verse is again describing the grim weather “Air that shudders”.

    The snow starts to fall; it pours heavily then stops, and starts again, making it very difficult for them to stay in the same place and keep warm. “Sudden successive flights of bullets streak the silence”. This is effective alliteration which allows the reader to imagine the sound of the shooting bullets. The soldiers start to move as they hear the sounds of the bullets, but find it hard because of the snow. “Black with snow” suggests a miserable, evil and sorrowful atmosphere. It creates the impression that the snow is alive and attacking the soldiers. Once more “nothing happens”.

    The line at the beginning of verse five describes the cold snow falling quickly, touching their faces as if to remind them of the relentlessness of the weather, “Pale flakes with lingering stealth come feeling for our faces”. “Forgotten hopes” could imply that they have given up an any thoughts they had of returning home safely to their families. The next verse is when the soldiers start to think about home. “Glimpsing the sunken fires glozed with crusted dark-red jewels”, here they could be thinking about a warm fire and the coal- the colour of it as it burns out.

    Their minds drift back to visualise their homes and how much they dream to be there: “Shutters and doors closed: on us the doors are closed”. It is the feeling of realisation that they cannot return there. The seventh verse is about God. That his love is shown through the shining sun, love of children and harvest. The line,” For love of God seems dying” suggests that Owen feels as though Gods love for the soldiers is dying because God preaches peace and love and they have gone into war and had to endure such terrible weather. Everything seems to be against them.

    It seems that God has sent this terrible weather because the soldiers have gone to war, and this shows how he disapproves. In the final verse, “To-night his frost” means ‘Gods frost’ because God controls the weather. The frost had a huge effect on the soldiers. “Shrivelling many hands” tell us the freezing conditions they faced with nothing to keep their bodies warm. It then goes onto when the soldiers bury the dead. “The burying party” were the group of soldiers whose job it was to bury the dead. They had to dig graves then bury their fellow soldiers.

    All their eyes are ice” creates another image of the cold staring expression of death. Overall the weather is the main issue in this poem as it is the major problem to the soldiers at the time. They feel it is a greater enemy than the gunfire of the opposing soldiers. The men find themselves thinking about death as a result of the weather and they think about their homes, their families and whether they will ever see them again and question their religious beliefs as to why God would put them into such a terrible situation.

    The poem “Disabled” is a poem based on the thoughts and feelings of a disabled soldier who has survived the war yet lost both of his legs and one arm up to the elbow. It is about his life how it has changed dramatically since being injured. Back in his youth before he had considered going into the war, he was always out playing football or going to the pub with friends and was popular with the girls. But after the accident nobody even gave him a second look or respected the fact that he had fought for his country.

    When he comes home from war he has to live in a hospice and he thinks that people don’t really care about him anymore. The ex-soldier feels as though he has got nothing left to live for and is waiting for his time to come to an end. The mood of this poem is very sad and depressing and is set out in seven verses, focussing on the soldiers’ memories from the past, the present and the future. The first verse of the poem introduced the main character and begins with the image of him sitting alone in his wheel chair “waiting for dark” implies that he is lonely and feels his life is pointless and just wants the day to end.

    Legless, sewn short at elbow”, tells us of his condition and the reason why he is in a wheel chair. “Voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn”, as he was sitting all alone he heard the boys laughing and having a good time and this takes him back to when he was able to go out. It depressed him because he would never again be able to experience that feeling. In the second verse the poem describes how things used to be, before the tragic accident. “And the girls glanced lovelier as the air grew dim, in the old times before he threw away his knees.

    He remembers when girls used to look at him when he was full bodied and know he is in a wheel chair girls don’t go near him, and they touch him as though he has got some “queer disease. ” He reminisces about when he was able to go out and meet girls. “Now he will never feel again, how slim girl’s waists are, or how warm their subtle hands. ” From this we can see that he is feeling low and depressed thinking of past loves and that he may never experience the love of a woman again.

    In verse three it then goes on to tell us about his experiences at the battle fields and when he was seriously wounded. In this stanza he thinks about how young his face was, and how much it his withered and aged. He realises that he shall never be able to walk again. “his back will never brace”. He has aged because of all the stress and pain he has been through. “For it was younger than his youth last year. Now he is old. ” “Poured it down shell-holes till the veins ran dry, and half his lifetime lapsed in the hot race and leap of purple spurted from his thigh.

    These are the images of blood and pain that he remembers happening to him. In the next part of the poem, Owen focuses on the soldier’s memories before the war. He goes on to describe when he used to play football “One time he liked a blood smear down his leg” tells us how he had football injuries when he was young, and the frustration that he feels because he can no longer experience that feeling. He also reminisces about the day he joined the army after a football game following a few drinks at the pub with friends.

    Meg was his girlfriend at the time, so he joined to please and impress all the girls, now the girls he joined for are no longer interested in him because he is now disabled. “He asked to join. He didn’t have to beg,” he volunteered to go into the army to try and impress women and friends, although he also felt a sense of duty. “Smiling they wrote his lie: aged nineteen years”. He lied to them saying he was nineteen when he was really younger. When it was time for him to go he didn’t think of the fear he was about to face “no fears of fear came yet.

    In this verse it also gives an impression that he was excited about being in the army a€“ because he knew that the soldiers got paid and he liked the idea of having his own personal weapons and taking care of them. “Smart salutes and care of arms. ” It gives him a sense of belonging “Espirit De Corps” is the French phrase for a group. “And soon he was drafted out with drums and cheers,” suggests that he liked all of the praise and the cheers. He thought it was great and was quite overwhelmed by it all. The next verse describes when he got home from the war after his injury.

    He uses the comparison of football and war, “Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer goal”. The language used creates a very gloomy home coming not the cheering of heroes who had fought for their country. He also begins to realise how much his life is about to change. The final verse is about him thinking about the future. “Spend a few sick years in institutes,” indicates that he knows that for the rest of his life he will be in homes and cast aside from the rest of the world. The use of word ‘sick’ implies that the years will not be worth living.

    And do what things the rules consider wise,” suggests that he no longer has any freedom and has to do what other people tell him to do. The line,” Tonight he noticed how the woman’s eyes passed from him to strong men that where whole,” implies that girls are repulsed by him and that because of his injury’s that he is no longer whole. He is lonely and just wants the days to go quickly so his pain and misery can finally come to an end. I think that the poem “Disabled” is a perfect example of the effects of war because it tells you of the consequences and the pain that some people went through.

    The ones that came back from war all in one piece were very fortunate; many came back with injuries or didn’t come back at all. Owen manages to make his audience feel sorry for the victims of war. Studying these two poems by Wilfred Owen has given me a clearer insight into the horrors soldiers faced in the war and the effect this had on them and their families. Owen uses powerful language in both poems to help us picture the images seen by soldiers on the front line and also to Help us to understand the physical and mental effects this had on those who survived.

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    Disabled and Exposure are poems written by Wilfred Owen during the First World War Essay. (2018, Apr 24). Retrieved from

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