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WILFRED OWEN - COLLECTED POEMS

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This is a wonderful book, and one of the most powerful collections of anti-war poems ever put together. Wilfred Owen was not a man who was describing war from the safety of his own home. He was in the thick of it, and he paid the ultimate price.

'Anthem for Doomed Youth' may just be the most powerful of all anti-war poems, and it was voted 8th in a list of Britain's favourite poems in a BBC poll. This poem like Owen's work generally is written in an unpretentious style. His poetry is very moving, but without being sentimental. He's painting pictures with words, and the pictures aren't pretty.

All his renowned work is here, including 'Dulce et Decorum est', 'Disabled', and 'Mental Cases'. The notes are very interesting, as you'd expect from a literary heavyweight like C. Day Lewis, and there's also some of Owen's non war poetry, but that's still bleak!

If you want to buy any book of Owen's work, I'd recommend this one for starters.

- Paul Rance.

This was a review originally written for Amazon.com.


Poetry Analysis: Disabled by Wilfred Owen

'Disabled' is one of the most poignant poems that the great war poet, Wilfred Owen, ever wrote.

An Immediate Impact

Rarely has any poem ever made such an impact with its own opening two lines; "He sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark, / And shivered in his ghostly suit of grey". These lines give an image of a man who is an empty shell, and is, effectively, just waiting to die.

Despite dreadful injuries, the disabled man takes comfort from the noise of boys playing. But the poet brings home, in the second verse, what pleasures the injured soldier will miss, such as enjoying female company. Then follows the final stabbing line of the verse: "All of them touch him like some queer disease."

In the third verse, Owen tells of how the man has gone from being a young man to appearing old. He has a back injury that is so serious he cannot sit up straight. Owen also later reveals that the man was a gifted footballer, and that he wasn't scared of getting injured. The man also didn't think too much about getting injured in the War, but thought more of how he'd look in uniform.

When the disabled soldier returns home, he is cheered, but it is not the same type of cheer that greeted one of his goals on the football field. Only one man thanks him for his sacrifice, but even this is not without condition, as he "enquired about his soul".

Without Hope

The disabled man's future is obviously bleak, and he seems broken in spirit. He will do whatever he is told to do, and hopes that he will receive some pity. The sadness we feel for this man intensifies in the final verse: "Tonight he noticed how the women's eyes / Passed from him to the strong men that were whole." The soldier then longs for bed, and seems frantic. Only when asleep will the man's torment end - albeit temporarily.

'Disabled' has a metre that superbly matches the distressing nature of the poem itself. There is no light and bright nature here. The poem includes rhyme, but the metre means that each rhyme is to be read in a slow and deliberate way. The changing of the rhyme scheme also aids this process.

Wilfred Owen himself saw the horrors of the First World War at first hand, but felt a sense of duty to fight alongside the men he wrote about. Owen was killed in France exactly a week before the War's end. He was just 25 years old.

Copyright © Paul Rance/booksmusicfilmstv.com.

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Harry Graham - When Grandmama Fell Off The Boat
Kenneth Grahame - The Wind In The Willows
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James Joyce - Dubliners
Franz Kafka - The Trial
Ric Klass - Excuse Me For Living
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Edward Lear - Complete Nonsense
C.S. Lewis - The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe
Paul Merton - My Struggle
George Orwell - 1984
Wilfred Owen - Collected Poems
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone
J.D. Salinger - The Catcher In The Rye
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Fiona Snelson - The NSPCC Book Of Famous Faux Pas
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