Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Analysis of Wilfred Owen's "Futility"


Wilfred Owen was born on March 18, 1893. He is considered to be one of the leading WWI poets. He served in the British army during WWI. His family lived comfortably in Owen's grandfather's house until he died in 1897, then the family had to move to the poorer part of Birkenhead. He went to Birkenhead Institute and Shrewsbury Technical School. He began writing poetry when he around ten years old, and continued to write until his death. He was raised in the Anglican church of the evangelical school; he was a devout believer in his youth. He was admitted into the University of London in 1911, but due to his family's financial struggles he had to work as the lay assistant to the Vicar of Dunsden as a pupil-teacher at Wyle Cop School  for free lodging and some tuition. During his time at Dunsden parish that he became disenchanted with his religion. He was working as a private tutor at the Berlitz School of Languages in Bordeaux, France when WWI broke out. On October 21, 1915, he enlisted in the Artists' Rifles Offiers' Training Corps. On June 4, 1916 he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Manchester Regiment. Owen began the war optimistically, but after two traumatic events his mindset changed. First, he was blown high into the air by a trench mortar and landed in the remains of a fellow officer. Second, he was trapped in an old German dugout for days. He was diagnosed with shell shock and sent to the Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh. It was here that he met Siegfried Sassoon. Sassoon had a huge impact on Owen's life and poetry. Owen's poetry became dark as he portrayed the horrors of the front line as realistically as he could. His poetry went against the public perception of the war at that time; it helped to open the eyes of the non-militant people back home. He returned to light regimental duties in March of 1918 at the Northern Command Depot at Ripon. He wrote a number of poems while he was in Ripon, the most notable are "Futility" and "Strange Meeting." He returned to the front line on October 1, 1918, and led the Second Manchester. While he was trying to cross a canal, he was shot in the head and died. WWI ended one week later. He was later awarded the Military Cross, which for him validated him as a war poet. 


Futility

Move him into the sun—
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it awoke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds—
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs so dear-achieved, are sides
Full-nerved,—still warm,—too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
—O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth's sleep at all?


Analysis
Wilfred Owen’s poetry usually describes the grotesque reality of the frontline of WWI; however, this poem concentrates on the meaning of existence, and the futility (pointlessness) of war and inevitability of death. The narrator of this poem is having an existential crisis; what is the point of being born if you are just going to die a few years later? It is common for people to question death and what comes after death, especially if that person is surrounded by death or on the verge of death themselves. Soldiers are faced with death every day, the death of their fellow soldiers and of their enemies; being surrounded by death on a daily basis can lead anyone to feel betrayed by life and life-givers. The anonymity of this poem allows it to universal; it can be describing any soldier. This poem also serves as an elegy, which is a song, poem, or speech that expresses grief for one who is dead, and it is usually melancholy in tone.  


CLICK HERE for the rest of the analysis of Wilfred Owen's "Futility"


Acknowledgments
Wilfred Owen's image: http://www.shropshirestar.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Wilfred-Owen.jpg

6 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for the easy and amazing notes.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great help when trying to analysis the poem for english literature gcse.

    ReplyDelete
  3. That´s a very good analysis :D thank´s...

    ReplyDelete
  4. this is great, helped alot for my exam this week.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wilfred Owen is a inspiration to all, with his unique style and structure of writing. I feel you have beautifully captured the essence of thoughts that were being considered at the time.

    ReplyDelete
  6. lovely sweet heart

    ReplyDelete