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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 

“Strange Meeting”:

- 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).

  • Author

    Wilfred Edward Salter Owen. (1893 - 1918). British.
  • Work

    Poet. Pioneered para-rhyme. Author of "Dulce et Decorum Est".
  • Genre

    War poetry.


Abrams, Meyer Howard, ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.

Barnard, Robert. Stručné dějiny anglické literatury. Praha: Brána, 1997.

Baugh, Albert C. ed. A Literary History of England. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967.

Coote, Stephen. The Penguin Short History of English Literature. London: Penguin, 1993.

Sampson, George. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1946.

Sanders, Andrew. The Short Oxford History of English Literature. New York: Clarendon Press, 1994.


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