Wilfred Owen: Poems

Wilfred Owen: Poems Summary

In "Strange Meeting" the speaker escapes out of battle into hell. There, a dead soldier jumps up and addresses him, discussing the hopelessness of war and the inability for truth to be discerned amid the murk and gloom of war. At the end of his speech the dead man tells the soldier that he is the enemy that he killed, and says that they should sleep now.

In "Apologia pro poemate meo" the poet writes of his fellow soldiers as worthy of poetry. There is more beauty and veracity in their muddy faces, oaths, and shell-storms than silk and ribbons and happy lovers.

In "Futility" a dead soldier is moved into the sun. The speaker wonders why his limbs do not stir if the sun brings life and warmth. He bitterly wonders why the soldier grew up at all if he died so young, and why the sun even bothers to interrupt the earth's sleep.

In "Le Christianisme" a church Christ is hit by a shell and crumbles, buried under rubble. A statue of the Virgin smiles on and wears a tin hat halo. She is soon be hit by a "piece of hell".

In "Spring Offensive" the poet writes of men resting in the shade of the last hill. Some do not sleep but mill about, looking at the horizon. The May breeze is pleasant and summer oozes into their veins. Suddenly the word comes and everyone is ready to fight. They race over the hill together and the whole world seems on fire. Some fall but others seem as if scooped up by God. Others enter hell but crawl back out and will not speak of their dead comrades.

In "Arms and the Boy" an older more experienced person, perhaps representing the rulers of Europe or a leader of the military, tells a young and innocent boy to look at and feel the bayonets and bullets and cartridges. This boy should be putting his teeth around apples and not become a monster, but it is implied that he will be seduced by the weapons and sign up for war.

In "Greater Love", the poet makes the case that love between soldiers is greater than the love of romance and sentiment. The tropes of romance and poetry do not stand up against the harsh reality of war, and are superficial.

In "The Kind Ghosts" Owen excoriates the women on the home front that live on blithely in their peaceful existence and do not want to be disturbed or grieved by the young men dying at the Front.

In "Anthem for Doomed Youth" the speaker says that soldiers who die like animals will not get the rituals of religion to comfort their families. They do not get prayers or choirs or candles, only bugle cries and shells.

Echoing the Old Testament Tale of Abraham, in "Parable of the Old Man and the Young", Abram takes Isaac into the wilderness and prepares a sacrifice. He is about to slay his son when the angel interrupts him and tells him he can sacrifice the Ram of Pride instead. Abram ignores the angel, slays Isaac, and then proceeds to slay the young men of Europe "one by one".

In "Disabled" a soldier who has lost his legs waits in an institute. He hears voices out in the park. He thinks about how he will never attract a woman, as they all look at him as if he is diseased. His mind wanders to his days before the war when he was a football hero and dreamt of glory. He joins the war for frivolous reasons and never thinks about Germans or fear, only the accoutrements of heroism. Now he knows that he will have to be taken care of for the rest of his life, and wonders why the nurse has not come to wheel him to bed.

In "Insensibility" the poet details the ways that soldiers have deadened their senses and repressed emotions so they can remain sane and aloof while amidst so much carnage and irrationality. At the end of the poem he wonders if this is the best way to go about getting through the war, for although he understands why the soldiers do it, he wonders if they have lost touch with humanity.

In "Dulce et decorum est" the poet depicts a troop of soldiers slogging through the battlefield, weary and blind and deaf. Suddenly poison gas is dropped and they try to put their helmets on in time. One soldier does not succeed and the speaker sees him drowning in the misty green light. The soldier gurgles and coughs blood on the back of the wagon he is placed in. The speaker says people should be aware of this when they try and tell the lie to children that it is an honor to die for one's country.