The specter of failure is not difficult to see in the clichÃÂÃÂ©d Romantic images of early poems such as On my songs (a petrarchan sonnet) and O World Of Many Worlds) a lyric made up of quatrains). In On My Songs, Owen is clearly frustrated at his inability " To be my own soul's cry"Ã¯Â¿Â½ despite the inspiration of empathizing "unseen poets"Ã¯Â¿Â½. He also feels despair when he sinks into writer's block.
The grip of a hackneyed image also links to Owen's sticking to the sonnet "" one of the oldest and most traditional of poetic structures.
Significantly, 1914, is one of the few poems that spells out the nationality of the enemy "" "The foul tornado, centered at Berlin"Ã¯Â¿Â½. Nevertheless, Owen is not fooled by chivalric images of war. For all the pastiche quality of this sonnet, 1914 ends with the full awareness of wanton bloodletting.
The vehemence and the pity he expresses in the variety of his trench poems mark a tremendous leap from his earlier work.
Traditional forms became re-charged with the assertiveness of a poet who has found his own voice.
His letters and poems leave us in no doubt what trench warfare was all about. Their vivid detail or subtler evocation became even more remarkable when we realize that they were written within the last few months of his life and were based on only four months at war, of which not more than five weeks were spent on the line.
However, it is important to recognize that Owen is not simply the kind of soldier poet galvanized into writing poetry in order to somehow come to terms with and record the horror and brutality of war. We have to keep his early poetry in mind, for though minor, they provided they provided the launching...