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Wilfred Owen’s, “The send-off,” illustrates the consequences of war and reveals its cynical, secretive nature through the use of poetic devices. The title, “The Send-off,” depicts two different images about the nature of war. “Send-off” could be interpreted as a farewell to soldiers, in the hope of their return, or metaphorically could convey their literal fighting till death. The composer’s use of symbolism, “darkening lane,” portrays the sinister side of war, while the alliteration, “grimly gay,” creates irony. This depicts the soldiers’ hidden fear of going into battlefield, compared with their initial excitement at “send-off.” The composer also emphasises the fact that the “typical” send-off is an emotionless, mechanical procedure for many military personal, rather than a cheerful experience.
Owen’s choice of diction is used to convey the horrors and themes of war. The metaphor, “Their breasts were stuck all white with wreath and spray. As men’s are, dead,” reinforces the concept of doom and sacrifice during war, through the onomatopoeia of “stuck” and the negative connotations associated with the word “dead”. Diction is used, “Dull porters watched them, and a casual trampâ€¦staring hard, sorry to miss themâ€¦,” to demonstrate that most onlookers have a lack of emotion towards war. The rhetorical question, “Shall they return to beatings of great bells in wild train-loads?,” conveys the uncertainty of war, where a soldier’s fate is unknown to many.
The composer’s use of repetition “A few, a few, too few for drums and yells”, conveys a sense of loneliness, as there are only a handful of soldiers who have returned home, depicting the horrors of the aftermath of war. The composer’s use of imagery, “May creep back, silentâ€¦up half-known roads”, portrays the returned soldiers’ disillusioned state of mind, effectively giving the responder an insight into the consequences of war.
The composer’s successful use of personification in this poem, “Then, unmoved, signals nodded” and “a lamp winked to the guard”, illustrates the secretive and cynical nature of war, and presents the mental assumptions about a typical war. Personification is also used, “So secretly, like wrongs hushed-up, they went,” to communicate the soldier’s unfair treatment at the hands of the government, while the phrase “they were not ours”, alludes to the soldier’s lack of belongingness.
LINK TO Q Another poem, in which Owen uses the power of poetry to convey the themes of war, is “Anthem for doomed youth.” The title, “Anthem for doomed youth,” acts as an extended metaphor for the sacrificial and improvident consequences of war. Owen uses religious imagery, “candles” and “choirs”, alluding to the funeral ceremonies associated with such religious symbols, while also depicting the inhumane nature of killing during the war. “Doomed,” conveys a pessimistic tone and creates an image of entrapment. The opening rhetorical question, “What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?”, illustrates the dehumanisation of war through the use of animal imagery. Moreover, the composer’s repetition, “only,” highlights the insufficient homage paid to death.
Owen also employs alliteration and symbolism to convey the themes related with war. Alliteration, “rapid-rattleâ€¦,” is used to assist the responder’s knowledge of the nature of death, and heightens our aural and visual senses to these disorientating images. Another example of alliteration, “sad shiresâ€¦,” conveys the after effects of war and its devastating consequences. Owen also tries to convey the horrifying nature of war through his vivid use of symbolism. Religious and church symbols such as “bells” and “choirs,” denote religion as a sanctuary from the horrors and evils of war. Imagery, “What candles maybe heldâ€¦shall shine in the holy glimmers of good-byesâ€¦”, transforms the mourner’s candlelight into tears and the “pallor” of mourners faces are compared to a “pall”, contrasting the different funeral images in war and peace. Also, the connotation of “each slow duskâ€¦”, reinforces the cycle of life and death.
It is evident that through the composer’s power of poetry, various themes been conveyed about war, thus heightening the responder’s understanding of the war experience. SUM UP THEMES In the final two lines of the poem, the composer makes successful use of imagery together with alliteration to convey the horrors of war, “Each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds,” revealing the end for many soldiers’ lives.
LINK TO Q Through the poem, “Spring offensive”, the composer conveys the various themes about war, through contrast, imagery and simile. The positive connotation, “Spring,” reinforces the idea of rebirth and renewal, which is juxtaposed with the destructive connotations associated with “offensive”. Owen awakens the audience through the harshness of the sound “f” in the alliteration, “fearfully flashed”. In so doing, the composer provides an ominous warning on the battlefield. Owen’s vivid use of death imagery, “Knowing their feet had come to the end of the world”, portrays a rather chilling and detrimental perspective of the battlefield.
Owen continues to mix the ideas of war and nature in the third stanza. Here the composer effectively juxtaposes the beauty of “buttercups” with the men’s “boots,” to emphasise war’s unnatural repulsiveness. Owen’s use of simile, “clutched to them and to them like sorrowing handsâ€¦,” conveys mother nature’s unwillingness to relinquish the soldier’s lives. Simile is also used, “like a cold gust”, to depict the lack of warmth and quiet beginnings of confrontation, as war commences in the fourth stanza.
Owen also successfully uses vivid war imagery to convey the various concepts of war in “Spring-offensive” and thus portraying the horrors present in war. The imagery, “So soon they topped the hill, and raced togetherâ€¦instantly the whole sky burned with furyâ€¦,” illustrates the dark and frightening nature of war amongst this peaceful physical environment, while the unity, “together,” highlights that the men go into battlefield as a group. Finally, the composer’s use of the rhetorical question “Why speak not they of comrades that went under?”, conveys the ghastly and silent nature of the battlefield, as the battle nears to an end. LINK TO Q Consequently, it is evident Owen has been able to integrate various poetic devices and language features into his poems, to reveal numerous ideas within war. Owen has been able to successfully convey the horrors of war through his power of poetry and his influential words. ANSWER THE Q
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