Presentation on theme: "By Wilfred Owen. Was born in 1893 in Oswestry, Shropshire. Educated at Birkenhead Institute and London University. At aged 20 went to Bordeaux, France."— Presentation transcript:
Was born in 1893 in Oswestry, Shropshire. Educated at Birkenhead Institute and London University. At aged 20 went to Bordeaux, France as tutor to a French family. Volunteered for the army in 1915. Served on the Western front when trench warfare and soldiers’ conditions were at their worst.
Was invalided out of the army in 1917, a nervous and battle-shocked wreck. He recovered and returned to France with a commission. He won a Military Cross and was killed on 4 November 1918, a week before the armistice. Owen is recognised as the greatest of the war poets as he is truthful about the terrible experience in a highly evocative poetic way. His poetry shows great compassion for his fellow soldiers.
What does the title tell us about what is happening? Who is it happening to? What do you think their feelings are at leaving? How do those left behind feel?
Why do people sing? Why do you think the soldiers sang as they marched to the shed where they would board the train for France and war? What does ‘close darkening lanes’ suggest? Look at the different meanings of ‘close’ in a dictionary and see why you think Owen used that word. What might ‘darkening’ be suggestive of given the war?
If something is unmoved it means that it lacks emotion. Look at how Owen uses personification to make the signals and the lamp have human characteristics and think about what he is trying to say about how the soldiers are being shipped out to war, where they may die, be maimed or be traumatised by their experiences.
How does the ‘So secretly’ link with the previous two line stanza with its ideas of conspiracy? Owen uses a simile to describe the soldiers. Why are they ‘like wrongs hushed up’? Owen places ‘they went’ at the end of the line. Why do you think he does that?
The people watching the soldiers go do not know them. They do not care for them. The soldiers do not belong there. Why is this simple short line so sad? Who is the narrator of the poem? How do you know? If in doubt look further on in the poem (line 14). What is Owen trying to say in this blunt statement about people’s responses to soldiers unknown to them?
This statement seems to be made with casual indifference. It is as if the woman does not care where the soldiers went to or where they may have fought and died because they are not ‘ours.’ What is Owen trying to suggest about people’s indifference to the deaths of those they do not know? Think about the difference in emotion you would feel knowing a loved one – a beloved brother, uncle or father- had died in comparison to hearing of the death of a stranger from another part of England. Is Owen being fair? Aren’t all humans programmed to care more for their own family and friends than strangers?
Why might the men ‘mock’ what the women meant by giving them such funereal flowers? Is the woman herself questioning the wisdom of giving the men such offerings? Why might she do this?
The verb ‘shall’ is used in a way that indicates that the future is not assured. The rhetorical question asks if the soldiers will be heralded as heroes for their brave actions in defending the country. What do you think? Owen contrasts the earlier verb ‘went’ in this section with the verb ‘return.’ They left in full train carriages which were ‘lined’ with men but will they return in ‘wild train-loads’? Owen here uses noisy words such as ‘beatings,’ ‘bells’ and ‘wild.’ Why is this such a contrast with ‘hushed up’?
Why does Owen repeat the word ‘few’ three times? What point is he trying to make about the difference between how many soldiers who left for war and how many return? Why might the returned heroes expect ‘drums and yells’ to cheer them on their return? What is Owen saying when he says they will not get such a welcome?
The final line of the poem seems mysterious. Why are the roads ‘half-known’? Is it because the soldiers don’t return home because they are ashamed at surviving? Is it because those who are injured are sent to recuperate? Is it because they went away such a long time ago and have half-forgotten what home looks like after the horrors they have seen? Or does it mean something else? What do you think?
Why did Owen write this poem? Pick two techniques he has used in the poem and explain why their use is effective. Be prepared to share them. How does the poem make you feel about the way you think about soldiers who are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan now and whose deaths and injuries are reported on the television and radio and in papers and on-line?