Futility By Wilfred Owen
Images of War • Look at these images and write down the feelings they evoke • What they say about World War 1
“Poppies” – “a multisensory explosion” Susan Owen Wilfred Owen ‘I was thinking of Susan Owen [mother of World war One soldier ad poet, Wilfred]… and families of soldiers killed in any war when I wrote this poem. This poem attempts on one level to address female experience and is consciously a political act. ’
. Who is Wilfred Owen? Despite his views on the senseless waste of war, Wilfred Owen was awarded the Military Cross in recognition of his courage and leadership during the breaking of the Hindenburg Line in October 1918. Owen was killed on 4 November 1918 trying to get his men across the Sambre Canal. The news reached his parents seven days later, on Armistice Day. He was born in 1893 and died in 1918. In a letter to his mother, Susan, Owen wrote: ‘I came out again in order to help these boys; directly, by leading them as well as an officer can; indirectly, by watching their suffering that I may speak of them as well as a pleader can. He is now thought of as the poet who exposed the brutalities of trench warfare and the senseless waste of life caused by World War One. Owen spent only four months fighting and only five weeks in the front line, but the shock of the horrors of war was so great that he decided it was his task to expose the ‘Pity of War’, to represent in poetry the experiences of the men in his care.
‘Futility’ by Wilfred Owen
Definition of ‘Futility’ (noun) 1. The quality of having no useful result; uselessness. 2. Lack of importance or purpose; frivolousness. 3. A futile act or event. • What does its use suggest about the poet's attitude to war?
Suggests he can’t move himself – makes us wonder why Move him into the sun – Who is he? What does he represent? Gently its touch awoke him once, At home, whispering of fields half-sown. Always it woke him, even in France, Resigned. Until this morning and this snow. What tone line profession was If anything might rouse him now title he before the The kind old sun will know. war? Technique? Purpose?
Idea repeated but nothing will wake the soldier Both stanzas start with a command making the reader… The sun is powerful, it brought life to earth but how it wakes the seeds – it can’t help once the clays of a cold star. now Think Woke Are limbs, so dear achieved, are sides Full-nerved, still warm, too hard to stir? Was it for this the clay grew tall? Why does the poet end – O what made fatuous sunbeams toil the poem with a To break earth’s sleep at all? Questions the reasons forgiving life in war – suggests it’s pointless Anger – hints at the pointlessness of war question mark
• What is the point of life being created if it can destroyed so easily?
Exploring the Text Presentation of nature * Find all the references to nature. * How is nature presented? Why? Use of sounds * Track the sounds of words in this poem? * What do you notice? How is Owen using the sounds of words? Direct address * What examples of direct address are there? * What do they help to achieve within the poem?