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‘Disabled’ – Wilfred Owen

After reading Disabled, poet Robert Graves described Owen as a damn fine, but very careless poet. Yet is it perhaps the poem’s loosely organised structure and many irregularities that gives the poem its raw energy.

Explore some of the ways Owen conveys the grossly unfair consequences of war in Disabled. In your answer refer to the attached original footage of young, male casualties.

Owen conveys the grossly unfair consequences of war and it’s horrific casualties through various techniques. A main way Owen conveys despair, regret and hopelessness by going from reality to remembrance to reality throughout each stanza in the poem. This amplifies the regret the man goes through when he returns to his home after the war as he remembers what life was once like in his home town, and how he is at the present time (Lost legs and arm). He remember when his “town used to swing so gay” and how “girls glanced lovelier as the air grew dim” which recognizes the fact he used to live such an enjoyable life, where as now he gets severely depressed when listening to children play. It shows the journey leading up to the war and the complete ignorance the man, and most of the world had about what horrors were waiting for them on the battlefield, which the newspapers and Government claimed to be a ‘glorious adventure’. Owen uses several events an audience can relate to to show the contrast between war and his life before and after. For example he uses a football match to show how they thought war would be like. It was made out to be a glorified game, much like football, Owen remembers, “one time he liked a blood-smear down his leg”.

Disabled is a poem that goes from reality to remembrance to amplify the horrors and grotesque consequences the man receives from War. The poem conveys what the man once was like, to how he is once he returned home and how instead of being greeted like a war-hero, people were severely unaware of the horrors of the battlefied and greeted him coldly and treated him like a “queer disease”.

Lest we forget.


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