Owen, Wilfred. (1893 - 1918).
L i f e
- enlisted in WW I, was wounded, and in the hospital met Sigfried Sassoon who encouraged him to write poetry
- killed in action a week before the war ended
- his poems were edited by Sassoon and published posthumously (1920)
W o r k
- combined a disciplined sensuality x a passionate intelligence
- suffered shell shock, the experience haunted his poems in images of blinded eyes (“Dulce et Decorum Est”) and the mouth of hell (“Strange Meeting”)
- mastered alliteration, onomatopoeia, assonance, and half-rhyme
- pioneered the ‘para-rhyme’ = rhyming of two words with identical consonants x but: differing stressed vowels (hall/hell)
“Dulce et Decorum Est”:
- contrast the ghastliness of death by mustard gas x the romantic Horatian assumptions about the dignity of patriotic sacrifice
- describes an escape from battle and a mystic post-mortal reconciliation of the two slaughtered soldiers
- unfinished, often conveniently interpreted as a knowing epitaph
“The Parable of the Old Man and the Young”:
- a sonnet looking back to biblical precedent x but: the clever, disturbing, and clinching final couplet turns the story of Abraham and Isaac on its head
"Courage was mine, and I had mystery, / Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery: / To miss the march of this retreating world / Into vain citadels that are not walled."
From "Strange Meeting".
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons).
AuthorWilfred Edward Salter Owen. (1893 - 1918). British.
WorkPoet. Pioneered para-rhyme. Author of "Dulce et Decorum Est".
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