Wilfred Owen uses different language techniques throughout his poem ‘Dulce et decorum set,’ and ‘Anthem of doomed,’ to raise awareness of the limited human rights soldiers had during World War One, between 1914-18. He also uses symbolism to give an insight on what it would have been like first hand witnessing these massacre events.
The use of simile is effectively presented in the line “what passing bells for these who die as cattle?” This shows a message that innocent soldiers who had little say in what they were able to do or not do were being slaughtered like cattle. Owners of cattle do not care if they are going to be slaughtered as they are only being used for food, or money. Soldiers during world war 1 can be compared to this. “Owners” or the leaders of countries involved in the war have similarities like complete control of them only using them to gain land, not caring about their deaths, just to bring in more to “die as cattle.” Hence this poem teaches us about how easily World War 1 broke peoples human rights, freedom of choice and speech. Ironically leaders used propaganda to say that war was great and they would protect them as much as possible.
Pronouns are displayed in the poem “Dulce et decorum est.” This can be seen in the line “But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind.” The pronoun ‘All’ brings up a significant theme that every single soldier in some way was affected by this war. ‘All’ is to show the significance of how many people were affected, instead of Wilfred Owen using ‘some,’ for example. The use of pronouns describes that every single soldier is going through exactly what Owen experienced, which is fatigue and horror. This has been chosen to not only think of all the soldiers from the British or French side but also maybe the opposition so the poem can be related to by many people. Wilfred Owen values sympathy, which stereotypically might not be seen by a soldier fighting for one’s country or allies. Pronoun’s can be personally related to the reader, as it creates an image of what the word ‘all,’ looks like. Hence making the reader personally think of for example ‘all of their school, or all of their country. It allows the reader to create a generalisation of a typical soldier, and think of how many people were affected and how much less productivity was made because of this terrible warfare. The reader may have a strong feeling towards this and can relate and think how hard it is to do something when every single person already has a setback, and this pronoun allows the reader to connect and have a feeling where you just feel like you are thick in mud before you have already started. Pronouns can be seen throughout Wilfred Owen’s poetry, showing that he significantly wants to show the impact on every single soldier. For example “What candles may be held to speed them all.” This presents just how many were killed from the war, thousands a day, which was at to fast of a pace to pay tribute to all, and remember them all. Wilfred Owen could be hence meaning that so many soldiers were left unknown or unidentified, which is the sad reality due to the significant amounts of death. Society during World War 1 and society today, warfare is highly recognised and seen to be heroic, however is so extremely tough mentally post-war. Soldiers have this feeling of is this heroism actually worth the post traumatic stress, and potentially dying, which will impact so many people throughout communities. Maybe some families not even knowing there loved ones had past away.
Symbolism is seen in the poem “Dulce et decorum est,” in the line ” Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues.” This technique was used to allow the reader to give meaning of what innocence is, allowing us to picture what innocence is which is being young and helpless, and are under no power to change or have an impact on their say. Wilfred Owen’s feels yet again like a young child, being innocent to this monster war and being completely fooled by “The Old Lie.” Innocent tongues symbolises that they had an innocence to decent food for a long period of time. Therefore describing their tongues as young as they have never been exposed to “incurable sores.” Wilfred Owen cross links with “to children ardent,” which links with this child image. It portrays an image of helpless innocent soldiers. The use of symbolism impacts the reader as they know that war was a time of horror and a very terrible thing to be a part of. As a reader I personally believe from my perspective of why would you sign up for this are torn and confused on why these men would have wanted to sign up for this. Symbolism allows the reader to realise that these soldiers were innocent and had no say, which is seen to be a main theme throughout Wilfred Owen’s poems. The symbol of innocent tongues can be seen throughout the world today for example in the malnourished communities of third world countries. These innocent children are being bought into the world, and have little power of getting themselves out of this situation, which is exactly seen in the war. These children only generally being used to again help support the family by working from the age of 4. This quote of the about innocent tongues teaches us a lot about civilisation giving us an idea on the separation of children in terms of their privileges. It teaches us about such a terrible issue that is still around today which is there is such a wide spectrum of young people who have either been in very corrupt and malnourishing conditions or at the other end being very over feed and pampered.
In conclusion, Wilfred Owen effectively uses symbolism throughout the poems ‘Dulce et decorum est,’ and ‘Anthem of doomed,