The Consequences and Impact of War in Wilfred Owen and Tony Harrison's Work

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The poetries and prose texts that I studied in the paper 2 section dealt with topics that include hope/dreams, pride, greed and freedom. I have noticed many of the texts and poems like ‘The Necklace’ dealt with the theme of pride; In the Story Mathilde Loisel is a very proud woman. She cared about her momentous pride that resulted in the tragedy at the end of the story. It is not just pride, but the honour she had, which is responsible for the tragedy at the end of the story. Other prose texts and poems included the themes of feminism and independence. In the text ‘The Story of An Hour’ it explores the key themes of people putting up a front in order to fit society, women wanting independence from their husband and how exciting independence can be.

The most significant themes that stood in my study was about war, bravery and sacrifice. For my assignment, I picked out ‘Disabled’ by Wilfred Owen and “The Bright Lights of Sarajevo” by Tony Harrison. The poem ‘Disabled’ concentrated on the theme of war and it projects the universality of war being accountable for dehumanizing its fellow soldiers. It claims their means of both physical and mental support, and regulates them to become lonely and untouchable. Wilfred Owen draws attention to psychological stress and pain as well as physical disabilities that results from warfare. The “Bright Lights of Sarajevo” also focuses on the theme of war and visualizing the Bosnian civil war. The poem also supports the fact it is about love because among the destruction of war, one night, in the most unlikely circumstance, love becomes triumphant.

However, there were a lot of different prose text like “Still I Rise” dealt with bravery, war and sacrifice. The most significant theme of “Still I Rise” was mainly about confidence and self-respect. In the poem, Maya Angelou discloses the fact that she will overcome any obstacle with her self-esteem and faith. She knows that nothing can stop her. She will rise to any occasion and nothing, not even her skin colour, will hold her back. Other prose like “Significant Cigarettes” dealt with themes like exploring cultural identity, in the extract travelling to another country for acceptance and opportunities. This is because the poet includes quotes like “our country”, “my home”, “their country”, “their village” displays how lev is struggling to overcome the idea of change and acceptance.

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The overall tone in the poem from the beginning, is a bit upsetting and dark. “And often dodging snipers on the way…struggling...eleven fights”. This suggests that the people of Sarajevo are going through hard times and that the setting is black and distressed. At the beginning of the poem Tony Harrison mentions the hardships through which the people of Sarajevo go through every single day in a well orderly tone which creates a sense of sadness in the reader’s heart. Wilfred Owen also sets the overall tone of sadness and despair in the first lines. The returned fighter is isolated and has nothing to do with his life-he Is not exactly celebrated was hero as he may have imagined. ‘Waiting for dark’ is certainly a substitute for death, repeated again at the end of the poem, Wilfred Owen is trying to build a dark and upsetting environment. His painful injuries have left him lifeless, hence the ghost like imagery. This is a focus of attention on by the alliterative repetition of ‘g’s in ‘ghastly and ‘grey’.

In the poem ‘Disabled’ the poet deliberately introduces the quote “Espirit de corps”, It defines as the morale of a group, Owen intentionally describes the sense of honour and dignity soldier’s felt before leaving for war. When enlisting in the army the confidence was driven by a glorified image of war. With woman cheering and dreams of becoming a real hero, this term defines why young teens would dedicate their lives to war. But in reality, what happened in the poem was that the soldier was back home with no one cheering him and he was alone with loss both physically and mentally. In the poem ‘Bright lights of Sarajevo’ Tony Harrison introduces the quote ‘“except…flirtatious ploys…girl’s dark shape…”. The word “expect” is a preposition which in the poem is used to express relation with other word or an element in the clause’. The poet uses the word to express the relationship between the boy and girl. It also gives a sinister sort of feeling. This is because the people also uses the word “ploys” and “dark shapes”. ‘ploy’ is usually associated with someone conspiring or plotting against someone else, or when a group of people gather in order to conspire against a larger or smaller group of people-it is an exercise usually practiced and executed during war the poet wanted to maintain his theme of war throughout the poem, therefore, he uses these words and terms in order to maintain his theme as well as convey his thoughts about the blooming love amongst all this war and violence.

‘Bright lights of Sarajevo’ is written in three stanzas and follows a strict and definite rhyme scheme, where every couplet in the poem shares a rhyme. The poets careful use of structure and rhyme is not fortunate. Tony Harrison uses rhyme in the poem that deals such stern subject matter, the poet is reminding the reader that there is still joy and positivity to be found during times of despair. In the poem ‘Disabled’ there is a subsequent broken rhyming pattern in each of the stanzas. Though there is a clear ACBD rhyme is some stanzas, the pattern breaks because of pauses, the stopping of the flow in the poem, using long words in the middle of the line ‘ghastly suit of grey’. The soldier pure loss and his broken will to live his life, is emphasized by the uncertain, awkward rhyme scheme. Even the stanzas do not share the same rhyme scheme, by doing this the poem is highlighting the intended message.

In the poem ‘Bright lights of Sarajevo’ the poet juxtaposes amongst two different feelings: happiness and fear. ‘when a girl’s dark shape is fancied by a boy….to take her hand and lead her away…Serb mortars massacred’. The poet mentions the blooming love between a bot and a girl, while on the other hand he quickly mentions the massacre. Through this the poet successfully delivers his feeling about the changing situation in Sarajevo. He adverts to the happiness which once spread the place but which is now seething with fear, blood and death. The contrast between ‘love’ and ‘death’ suggest that the poet is trying to convey his concerns about the toll of the siege on the minds of the children and possibly the mind of the youngsters. Those who once roamed around with their friends in love are now-because of the siege-are deprived of that happiness. Through the poem ‘Disabled’ the poet contrasts and juxtaposes in a majority of the stanzas. In the first stanza, the experienced soldier is sitting alone in his wheelchair with his leg cut off. Owen describes the boys playing the park, these boys are a direct juxtaposition to the soldier because they are able to run around but unfortunately the soldier is not able to, and they are innocent to the horror of war whereas the soldier has first-hand-experience. This mainly juxtaposes the theme of childhood an adult hood as well as loss and reality.

The poet juxtaposes two different circumstances, In the poem of ‘Bright Lights Of Sarajevo’: The first juxtaposition is about the streets of Sarajevo that are not empty and are instead filled with “young people who are “walking at a stroller pace. The second juxtaposition is the unique routine of the people during the siege “hours…queuing….to get refills”. The first juxtaposition gives the reader a feeling of speed because “young people” can connate to speed and vigour. The second juxtaposition gives a feeling of slowness because “hours”, “queuing” gives an unhurried and unrushed feeling. The poet is trying to successfully focus on the change in the surroundings and the change in people’s lives due to the ongoing and devastating siege. In the poem ‘Disabled’ Wilfred Owen deliberately inserts a small, three-line stanza as a change from the subject’s memories to his current status. The reader is disturbed by the juxtaposition of the normal and abnormal. Instead of getting a well-known hero’s welcome, the subject is talked down to his own memories of what he had imagined it would be his return to England would be like: “some cheered him home, but not as crowd’s cheer goal “The irony about this is that the reader is encouraged and enforced to feel sorry for the subject’s decision and following loss. Wilfred Owens purpose for this stanza is to show that those who return from the war injured are pitied for their loss, rather than being honoured for their bravery and sacrifice.

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