20th Century Literature

Week 4: Poetry of the First World War

2. Write a letter to Sassoon or Owen telling them that their vision, their ideas are still sorely needed in the world today.

Dear Owen,

I strongly believe that your ideas and visions are still sorely needed in today’s world. All the horrors and stories you write about in your poems are so well written and descriptive that they convey the thoughts and feelings of what you – and those around you – saw and felt. These feelings are quite different to the notion that once existed of how great it was to go and fight in the war.

Through reading your poems, we gain insight into what war truly involves rather than a portrayal of a simplistic image that people often see when thinking of war. Usually, this simplistic image depicts men coming home from war as heroes and returning to their families, rather than showing the horror and brutality they witness and more specifically, the ones who are left behind. I feel that in ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ you do a great job of showing this horror and the ways in which the environment of the war affects the men. “All went lame; all blind; drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots of gas shells dropping softly behind” makes us stop and wonder why war was believed to be something to fight in and why it has been so encouraged when it is in fact such an awful act of inhumanity that traumatises those who fought.

I wonder if without the truthful visions of those who fought and experienced war – specifically those such as yours – whether or not we would still have this notion around how great it is to go and fight for your country as it was before. I believe that having the ability to access poems and stories such as ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’, we are able to build on our previous knowledge and understanding of war and become more educated on the truthful experiences which help to educate people of today’s world.


Nicole Walsh


Featured image source: https://biox.stanford.edu/highlight/stanford-bioengineers-close-brewing-painkillers-without-using-opium-poppies


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