Wilfred Owen: Poems

“Fellowships Untold”: The Role of Wilfred Owen’s Poetry in Understanding Comradeship During World War I

In his recent study of the relationship between poetry and warfare, The Poetry of War, James Anderson Winn writes of the war poet’s ability to “convey, often in the same line or stanza, both the intensity of love between men of arms and the powers of forces that constrain the expression of that love; cultural taboos, personal embarrassment and the looming presence of death”. This analysis certainly holds true for the poetry of Wilfred Owen, a soldier whose writing details the uniquely harrowing experiences of front-line troops living and dying together in intense physical proximity. Accordingly, poems such as “Spring Offensive”, “Apologia pro Poemate Meo”, and “Strange Meeting” use stark realism and powerfully emotive imagery to explore the male bonds forged during combat. His depiction of male intimacy in the trenches has led some scholars to explore whether Owen’s work simply reflects an extension of late-Victorian values of honour and nobility, or whether the portrayal of comradeship and fellowship in his writing points towards something more subversive and unique. Therefore, it is also useful to consider Owen’s own sexuality when studying the way in which his writing combines front-line homoeroticism and depictions of the...

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