Stanza 1 begins with a description of the shocking condition of a group of soldiers retreating from the battlefield. Owen is the observer of another incident of misery and the horror if trench warfare.
“Bent double, like old beggars under sacks” simile undermines stereotypes, imagine of a soldiers as young and fit. Suggests they are filthy and weak.
Owen gives an impression that war was disappointing and makes the soldier appear drunk, or even like zombies from the exhaust and continues fight to survive, even without a gas bomb or a battle, they are zombie-like.
“Gas! Gas!” This line begins with two disruptions of the rhythm, with the succession of the four sharp, short, stressed syllables and the disruption of the telling voice.
The “ecstasy of fumbling” which goes on here, however, is anything but rapturous.
We’re back to the sort of ironic language that we’ve seen in the title – combining elevated language with absolute chaos makes the whole experience seem totally out of proportion, they are scared and mad because of war.
“As under a green sea, I saw him drowning” an extended metaphor describes the man choking to death – unable to breathe, he falls about. Owen describes having flashbacks to the death of his comrade highlighting how the impact of war last over many years and across generations.
Read the poem:
Look for information about Wilfred Owen
Characteristics of war poetry
Explain each stanza with your own words
Which images predominate? Quote and explain
What does the title mean?
Wilfred Edward Salter Owen, MC (18 March 1893 – 4 November 1918) was an English poet and soldier. He was one of the leading poets of the First World War. His war poetry was on the horrors of trenches and gas. He had been writing poetry for some years before the war.
War poetry is poetry written that was written during WW1, between 1914-1918. It deals with 4 important themes: honor, injury, gender relations, and poetic formalism.
Stanza N°1: The first line takes the reader straight into the ranks of the soldiers, an unusual opening, only we’re told they resemble old beggars and hags by the speaker who is actually in amongst this sick and motley crew.
Stanza N°2: We delve deeper into the scene as chemical warfare raises its ugly head and one man gets caught out. He’s too slow to don his gas mask and helmet which would save his life by filtering out the toxins.
Stanza N°3: Only two lines long, this stanza brings home the personal effect on the speaker. I, my, me – the image sears through and scars despite the dream-like atmosphere created by the green gas and the floundering soldier.
Stanza N°4: The speaker widens the issue by confronting the reader (and especially the people at home, far away from the war), suggesting that if they too could experience what he had witnessed, they would not be so quick to praise the war dead. They would be lying to future generations if they thought that death on the battlefield was sweet.
The title of the poem is a reference to one of Horace’s, a roman philosopher and poet, odes. The phrase is translated to “It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.”
Soldier, rest! by Sir Walter Scott
It is composed by three stanzas each one of 12 lines
It has repetitions:
“Soldier, rest! thy warfare o’er”
“Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking”
“dream of battlefields not more”
“nights of waking”
“Huntsman, rest! thy chase done”
Sleep! the deer in his den;
Sleep! thy hounds are by three lying;
Sleep! nor dream in yonder
Sleep the sleep
days of danger
fairy strains of music fall
Days of danger, nights of waking
morn of tail, nor night of waking.
Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking
The warfare o’er
nights of waking
war and army, hunting, deer, den, hounds
Criticism of war
Struggle of life
Battle of life and death
Meaning of life
Our interpretation of the story is based on life and death and life after death, we believe that through the poem the author is trying to transmit us that life is a constant battle and that has lots of difficulties and that there are obstacles that we are going to get through but they are some we won’t, at the end death is compared with finally resting and being in peace and never suffer again because that was life. The poem has a connection with Romanticism because the Romantic movement had a strong influence on death and the afterlife, this afterlife is became idealized in literature, they were against their society and so they had other alternatives; to focus on the past or to focus on the life after death.
Death Bed by Siegfried Sassoon
The poem “Death Bed” by Siegfried Sassoon portrays the experience of a soldier who is badly hurt and is coming in and out of consciousness. The soldier is suffering a battle between life and death, which finally ends with him dying because death “chooses” him. As, during the poem, he is coming in and out of consciousness, he can’t distinguish reality from dreams. This confuses us readers as we as well can’t differentiate what is real and what isn’t.
Battle of life and death