War poetry

Read the Poem

  1. Look for information about Wilfred Owen
  2. Characteristics of war poetry
  3. Explain each stanza with your own words
  4. Which images predominate? Quote and explain
  5. What does the title mean
  • Wilfred owen
  • Born: 18 March of 1893
  • Death: 4th November 1918
      • Fought on war world 1
      • He wrote about the horror of trenches of gas warfare
      • It’s regarded as the greatest poet of ww1
      • Influenciated by Keats and Shelley
      • Sassoon was his mentor
      • He used satire in his poems
  • Characteristics of war poetry
      • Rhetoric of honor
      • Injury


  • Stanza 1: Stanza one talks about how the soldiers lived in the trenches. They were dehumanized because they were so exhausted that they couldn’t even see the gas bomb that had fallen besides them. This is a sign that they were so tired that their scenes were prejudiced. Also their conditions were precarious.
  • Stanza 2: This stanza gives us an inside of how difficult was to survive in the war. It shows the reaction of the soldiers when a bomb was thrown at them.
  • Stanza 3: This stanza shows Owens feelings towards war, and how he was very traumatized because of the events. This is Owen talking in the “present” after the war.
  • Stanza 4: This stanza show a criticism to war, the church and the government, that made kids go to war compulsory.
  • Imageries
      • The imageries that predominate are the visual imageries. This show what was war and the trenches like. “Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.”
  • Title:
  • Traduction: “It is sweet and right.”
  • “It sweet and right to die for your country”

Task 1: Poem analysis

Stanza 1

  1. What is the main emotion expressed in the first stanza (verse)?

The main emotion that the first stanza portrays is suffering. It portrays how the soldiers were living in pain and precarious situations.

  1. Write an example of a simile used in the first stanza:

“Like old beggars under sacks”

Why were the shells ‘disappointed’?

The shells were disappointed because of the situation that was happening. They were at war and the shells were disappointed of this.

Stanza 2

  1. How does the emotion change at the beginning of the second stanza?

In the first stanza everything is tranquil. The soldiers are very tired and complaining about their situation. But when the second stanza starts an atmosphere of terror and survival starts because the opponents are throwing gas to the soldiers so they have to escape it not to die.

  1. What were the soldiers ‘fumbling’ for and why?

They were fumbling because the gas was thrown to them unexpectedly so they started to run to escape it. Because they were surprised by it they ran clumsily.

  1. Owen uses a metaphor to describe what the gas looked like. Write it here:

“Under green sea”

Stanza 3

  1. Why do you think the third stanza is only two lines long? Think about the dramatic effect and the emotion:

This stanza is very short to emphasis how the soldier thinks about his experience in the war. He writes about how he sees one of his fellow soldiers dying because of the gas.

Stanza 4

  1. What is the main emotion expressed in the fourth stanza?

The main emotion expressed in the fourth stanza is criticism. In this stanza the poet invites us to have a more critical view of war and its propaganda.

    1. Name three parts of the body that are affected by this sort of gas:
      • The eyes: This gas affects the eyes by irritating them and sometimes this can end in blindness. “ white eyes writhing in his face”.
  • The lungs: When the gas enters the lungs they can create cancer, because of its chemical structure. When you breathe this gas you feel breathless. “froth-corrupted lungs,/Obscene as cancer,”
  • The tongue: When the gas was toxic for the mouth too. “incurable sores on innocent tongues”
  1. Explain the final lines.

Extension Question

  1. Write your opinion of this poem. Think about what the emotion expressed, use of powerful words, use of similes and metaphors, layout, and what the poet is trying to say. Try to use full sentences and give reasons to support your ideas.
    Share these answers in your blog)

Our opinion of the poem is that is very real. The poet expresses his trauma and his near death experience with a lot of imageries. He makes us see how war is and the real conditions that the battlefield is. With his imageries he portrays a serie of emotions like desperation, exhaustion and  fear that is very striking for someone that hasn’t gone to war. Owen gives us ,also, the aftermath of war, and how it affects the human mind. After war you most probably will end up with a psychological trauma that will last forever which is very striking.


Task 2

-Work on the following poems (they can be found in Songs of Ourselves or you can listen to them)

Soldier, Rest!

The Death Bed

Task 2:

Soldier, rest!

Opinion: In our opinion, the aim of the poem ‘Soldier, Rest!’ written by Sir Walter Scott is to protest the whole meaning of war. Scott criticizes the causes and consequences of it. He despises the ‘days of danger’ and the battle fields. Scott concludes that it is even better to die than to live after war since living as a veteran is that bad. Moreover, he also emphasise that it is better to die in war than to fight. According to Scott, war is the worst fate.

Alliteration: “sleep to sleep” “days of danger” “fairy strains of music falls”

Oxymoron: ‘nights of waking’

Metaphors: ‘sleep’ This is a powerful metaphor since it represents the whole message of the poem, which is death. Death is important because the author wants to transmit to the readers that death is better than life after war.

Themes: afterlife, meaning of life, death

Tone: reflective, dreaming, calming


 Sleep! the deer is in his den

Sleep! thy hounds are by thee lying:

Sleep! nor dream in yonder glen

The Death Bed

Opinion: Sassoon described the sad story of a soldier that was wounded in war. The soldier is so hurt that he could not see the difference between life and death, dreams and reality, consciousness and unconsciousness. This makes the readers feel sorry for him and to understand how badly war hurts soldiers. Even if they survive, a sad death or a painful trauma will follow. At the end, the soldiers ‘faced in his drawing eyes’.

Themes: battle of life and death, war, death

Tone: agony, confusion and darkness


Water – calm, sliding green above the weir

Water- a sky – lit alley for his boat

Task 3

  1. Check out the following page: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/articles/70139/the-poetry-of-world-war-i
  2. Choose 2 poems and prepare an analysis.
  3. Illustrate them with pictures and explain which different parts of the poem they illustrate.
  4. Write an essay. Compare and contrast 2 of the poems you have worked on. Comment closely on the themes, tones and how the writers convey their message.
  5. Post the analysis in your blog.

I strongly suggest these authors: Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and T. Hardy (but you can choose whoever you want)

Task 3:


a) The kiss by Siegfried Sassoon

b) Channel firing by Thomas Hardy


Compare and contrast 2 of the poems you have worked on. Comment closely on the themes, tones and how the writers convey their message.

Even if the two poems, ‘Soldier, Rest!’ written by Sir Walter Scott and “The Death Bed” written by Sassoon both deal with war, they both face the fatality in a different way. On the one hand, ‘Soldier, Rest!’ tackles afterlife in a calming tone while “The Death Bed” portrays death with agony.

To begin with, ‘Soldier, Rest!’ main aim is to complain about war. During the whole poem, Scott criticizes everything that has to do with war, the causes, consequences, the meaning itself. He even describes, by means of the voice, how scary war is. “Days of danger, nights of waking”  Through this oxymoron, readers can understand how horrifying war actually is. However, Scott also leaves a conclusion behind his poem. Firstly, it is better to die than live after a war. Readers can understand this when the main voice talks about the nightmares war veterans can suffer. Lastly, he leaves a message according to the physical part of the war. Scott claims that it is better to die there than to fight and kill innocent soldiers.

Because of this, the poem, in a reflective tone, talks about the meaning of life and death.

On the other hand, “The Death Bed”  is a poem about a soldier which was wounded in war. It portrays his experience about being badly hurt and coming in and out of consciousness. The soldier suffers a battle between life and death and cannot see the difference between life and death, dreams and reality, consciousness and unconsciousness. Sassoon’s aim was to prove that soldiers are hurt as much as in war eve if they do not die in the battle field. He tackles death, but not in a reflective way, but in a confusive one. He makes the readers feel disorientated about whether the main voice is dead or alive. Moreover, the tone of this poem is also full of darkness and agony, as the soldier ends up dying. The soldier ‘Faced in his drawing eyes’.

In conclusion, the poem ‘Soldier, Rest!’ manifests war in a dreamy way showing us how fearsome war can be while “The Death Bed” talks about war by showing how badly life can be for war veterans. Sassoon portrays this in a gloomy and tragic way.