W. H. Auden: Poems

Understanding Rejection in “Disabled” and “Refugee Blues” 10th Grade

As poets responding to the turmoil of war, authors Wilfred Owen and W.H. Auden both explore the causes and consequences of rejection. The two men in particular emphasise the psychological impact that war has on human beings who are unjustly cast aside from society for their physical appearance or their religious beliefs. It is essential to take a close look at language, literary devices, and linguistic features to truly understand the ultimately humanistic message and emotions the authors are trying to convey through their writing.

In “Disabled”, a soldier from World War I is rejected for his physical disability. Right from the first stanza, it is said that his suit is “legless, sewn short at elbow”. This effective beginning informs the reader that the soldier has lost body members and is as a result physically disabled, but it also sets a gloomy, pessimistic tone; the use of caesura emphasises the soldier’s disability by interrupting the flow of the poem in order to let the image sink into the reader’s mind. Indeed, the poem opens with a dismal image of the soldier sitting alone in a “wheeled chair”, “shiver[ing]”, which immediately evokes pathos. We especially empathise with the soldier’s heartache at being rejected by women,...

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