Wilfred Owen: ‘Exposure’ – Mr Bruff Analysis


Hello everybody and welcome to this video,
part of the ongoing poetry analysis. And, today, we’re going to analyse the Wilfred
Owen poem ‘Exposure’. Now, it’s widely agreed that ‘Exposure’
is Wilfred Owen’s most polished, most poetically impressive poem. He certainly spent a long time drafting and
redrafting it and, as a result, there’s so much you could say about this poem. So, in this analysis I’ll try to look at some
of the things which are often overlooked. My focus is going to be on the rhyme scheme,
pararhyme, the refrain, personification, sibilants, religious imagery, intertextual references,
caesura, and more. So, before I start, just to say that everything
that I go through in this video could be picked up in my guide to poetry available at https://mrbruff.com
rather than you have to write everything down. So let’s begin by talking about the poet Wilfred
Owen. Now, as always, we only want to look at the
biographical details which relate to the poem that we’re studying. There’s a lot to do with Owen and Sassoon
and how they met and work together, but none of that is really essential for this poem. So, we’re going to skip over those details
and look at just a few things which I think really help us to understand ‘Exposure’. A little bit about Wilfred Owen. He was born in 1893. He joined the British Army in 1915 and died
in battle on November the 4th 1918, just a week before the war was declared over. He originally pursued a career in the church,
but he gave up on that. And there’s a mixture of ideas of why he gave
up but, ultimately, it seems that he just felt that the church didn’t look after people
like it was supposed to. There was some hypocrisy in the church, and
he left the church. He was an avid fan of the poet John Keats
(1795 to 1821). And this is important because I think some
people sort of assume that Owen began writing poetry in the wall and “wasn’t he amazing?” But that’s not the case. He was already writing a lot of poetry from
childhood and, of course, it’s his World War I poetry that we all look out now. But he was avid poet, a huge fan of John Keats,
and there are some references in this poem to John Keats. Let’s just talk briefly about the context
– the World War I poetry. Today, when we look at war poetry I think
we can think of it all as being the same. But in his time Wilfred Owen was a revolutionary
war poet. You see, before Owen, war poetry focused on
patriotic verse which praised the bravery of the soldiers, a glorified battle. And you can think of Tennyson’s ‘Charge
of the Light Brigade’ as being that kind of poem, although there is some sort of subtle
criticism in that poem too. But it’s important to understand the sort
of British attitude to war in 1914. You see, the public hadn’t experienced a major
war for over a hundred years, and war sort of became something of myth. It was thought of as something that brave
people did. It was honorable; It was exciting. And Owen is very keen to dispel this myth,
to expose – as you think about the title – the reality of war. You see, Owen didn’t believe like many war
poets before him of the “glory, honour, might, majesty, dominion, or power” of war. He believed that war was pointless, and this
is the recurring theme throughout his poetry – that war is futile. And as we’ve already seen, Ted Hughes echoes
the work of Owen in his own World War I poem, ‘Bayonet Charge’. So ‘Exposure’ focuses on Owen’s experiences
in trench warfare. In November 1917 he wrote to his mother, “The
marvel is that we did not all die of cold. As a matter of fact, only one of my party
actually froze to death before he could go be got back, but I’m not able to tell how
many have ended in hospital.” So, basically, the poem ‘Exposure’ describes
the way a group of soldiers in a trench suffer in the harsh weather conditions, dreaming
of home, questioning why they are there, thinking about their reasons for being in the war,
what they’re doing, and whether it’s worthwhile. Very interesting war poem in the sense that
it doesn’t actually contain any sort of battle or war between soldiers. The war is between the soldiers and the weather
conditions. There are other Owen poems such as ‘Spring
Offensive’ and ‘Futility’ which explore this idea of nature as enemy, and it’s one
of Owen’s recurring themes. And Owen uses language structure and form
to basically help the reader empathize and understand what it was like to wait long days
and long nights for action which never appears, only to be slowly killed by the harsh weather
conditions. Now, throughout, we need to look for the poet’s
deliberate techniques used to make us feel like the soldiers felt themselves. Not only, of course, that the soldiers are
helpless but their suffering is pointless and futile. So, with this in mind, the title ‘Exposure’,
we can understand from the context, could actually refer to not just the exposure to
the weather conditions, not just the sort of threat of being exposed to the enemy soldiers,
but also the fact that the poem and all of the poems of Wilfred Owen actually refer to
the exposure of the truth for the British public of the reality of war. Owen is saying, “Look, war is not glorious. It’s not brave and honourable and sort of
romantic. It’s awful, and I’m going to expose the reality
of the war to you.” Now, what I’m going to do to begin with is
give you a line-by-line translation of the poem. But if you don’t want that, if you think now
I understand what the poem means, then click the screen now and it will take you straight
to the analysis. In terms of line-by-line translation, this
is a very complex poem. There are one or two verses that really do
cause some debate and controversy about what they mean. And I have looked at over a dozen books to
do with this poem to try and get a really good idea of just some of the more sort of
difficult ambiguous sections. So, I’ll talk to you about the meaning of
the poem but, as I’ve said in other videos, the meaning of the poem, the sort of literal
plot, the storyline of the poem is not actually the most important thing. We can disagree on what’s going on. It’s the poet’s use of language structure
and form that we really need to focus on. Okay. So let’s have a look at verse one. Our brains ache, in the merciless iced east
winds that knive us… Wearied we keep awake because the night is
silent… Low, drooping flares confuse our memories
of the salient… Worried by silence, sentries whisper, curious,
nervous, But nothing happens. So what’s being said here is, our brains are
aching in this freezing cold wind which is hitting us. We’re tired but we stay awake on watch. Flares flying through the sky confuse our
memories of the position we’re in. A salient is a position on the frontline which
juts out into enemy territory. We’re worried by the lack of sound. We whisper; we’re scared; but nothing happens. And then, on to verse two: Watching, we hear the mad gusts tugging on
the wire, Like twitching agonies of men among its brambles. Northward, incessantly, the flickering gunnery
rumbles, Far off, like a dull rumour of some other
war. What are we doing here? So, what’s being explained here, they’re watching,
they’re hearing the wind as it tugs on the wire – the barbed wire – like the twitching
agonies of men. And then, to the north, they can hear guns
far off, a long way away as if it’s in a totally different war. And then, there’s this question – What are
we doing here? The poignant misery of dawn begins to grow… We only know war lasts, rain soaks, and clouds
sag stormy. Dawn massing in the east her melancholy army
Attacks once more in ranks on shivering ranks of grey,
But nothing happens. So, in other words, the depressing morning
arrives and we know that war goes on and the rain gets us wet. Morning gets her weapons ready, attacking
us again with freezing cold rain. But nothing happens. Sudden successive flights of bullets streak
the silence. Less deadly than the air that shudders black
with snow, With sidelong flowing flakes that flock, pause,
and renew, We watch them wandering up and down the wind’s
nonchalance, But nothing happens. So, there’s some gunfire, some shooting which
breaks up the silence. But that gunfire, that shooting, is not as
dangerous as the snow which is falling on us. We watch the snowflakes floating around, but
nothing happens. Pale flakes with fingering stealth come feeling
for our faces – We cringe in holes, back on forgotten dreams,
and stare, snow-dazed, Deep into grassier ditches. So we drowse, sun-dozed,
Littered with blossoms trickling where the blackbird fusses. Is it that we are dying? So here’s where it gets a little bit tricky. So, basically, the flakes of snow are falling
on our faces, and we’re cringing in our trenches and, then, we’re staring in a daze at nothing
and we slip out of consciousness, beginning to dream of sun, flowers, and birds. Are we dying? Slowly our ghosts drag home: glimpsing the
sunk fires, glozed With crusted dark-red jewels; crickets jingle
there; For hours the innocent mice rejoice: the house
is theirs; Shutters and doors, all closed: on us the
doors are closed, – We turn back to our dying. So, he’s talking here about going back home
to Britain; seeing the fires at home which are fading away because there’s no one there
now to make the fire; hearing the sounds of the countryside; and, then, the mice are enjoying
the empty houses; and everything’s closed and shut up because all the soldiers are away
at war. And we go back to our dying. Since we believe not otherwise can kind fires
burn; Nor ever suns smile true on child, or field,
or fruit. For God’s invincible spring our love is made
afraid; Therefore, not loath, we lie out here; therefore
were born, For love of God seems dying. Now, this is the most ambiguous stanza, and
the author Douglas Kerr helped me out with a couple of details really interesting. Essentially, what’s being said here is, because
we believe that war and going to war is the only way to ensure that loving domestic life
will go on and that children will continue to be brought up happy, healthy, and protected,
we’re doing this. We’re at battle. We used to think of the return of spring as
inevitable but, now, in our concern for our loved ones, we’re no longer confident that
springtime and happiness will be renewed. And that’s why we’re doing this job of being
sold just willingly. Perhaps that’s what we were born for because
the love of God seems to be dying. And that’s ambiguous – the final line. Does it mean that God’s love for us is dying
or does it mean that you know the right thing to do is to die? And I’ll talk a bit more about that line later. But, thank you to Douglas Kerr for that because
that really was the trickiest stanza there. Tonight, His frost will fasten on this mud
and us, Shrivelling many hands, puckering foreheads
crisp. The burying party, picks and shovels in the
shaking grasp, Pause over half-known faces. All their eyes are ice,
But nothing happens. So, really, what’s it saying? Well, tonight’s going to be another night
of freezing-cold temperatures as the ice and the frost sticks to us and freezes us, and
those soldiers who are in charge of burying their comrades with their shovels in their
hands will look over the faces of the dead, the frozen, but nothing happens. Structure
Now let’s have a look at something to do with the structure of the poem. Owen wants readers to understand the intensity
of waiting during battle and, then, the anticlimactic letdown that comes when nothing happens. You see, we often watch war films and think,
“Intense battles, that’s really sort of high-energy,” but, of course, a lot of war
is spent waiting, where nothing happens. In World War I with a lot of trench warfare,
there was a lot of time waiting soldiers felt that they were gone for years and years of
just waiting around with nothing happening. And during all of that time, soldiers lived
on adrenaline. So they were always highly strung as if something
was going to happen. But, of course, that’s what leads to combat
stress reaction to shell shock. This kind of non-stop high adrenaline. So it’s not just that nothing happens. It’s that the soldiers are on full alert
with heightened senses, ready to go at any second, knowing that something could happen
at any moment. So, to help the reader to empathize with this
experience, Owen structures each stanza in the same way. We’ll look at the first stanza, but they all
follow this pattern. Each one begins with a blunt and powerful
sentence. Here, we have – ‘Our brains ache in the
merciless iced east winds that knive us.’ Very kind of emotive with ‘merciless’,
with ‘knive us’, and the ‘ache’ there. And, then, that opening sentence is followed
by highly emotive vocabulary choices – ‘wearied’, ‘low drooping’, ‘confused’, ‘worried’,
‘curious’, ‘nervous’. And this heightens the tension and basically
builds up to this sort of climactic moment of energy. But, crucially, after dramatically heightening
the tension, each stanza ends with an anticlimactic line where very little takes place. And in many of the verses, it is this final
line – ‘but nothing happens’. So this is a three-part structure found in
each stanza. It begins with a blunt and powerful sentence,
then there’s lots of highly emotive vocabulary choices but an anticlimactic final line. And Owen wants his reader to empathize with
how the soldiers felt. Everything is tense and seemingly building
to a climax, only to end up being nothing. The eighth verse repetition as well reflects
that emotional rollercoaster the soldiers were going through on a daily basis. They were exhausted. Day after day after day after day, this is
what would happen. They would be on edge. They would be tense, thinking that they were
about to be thrust into battle. They were freezing, and they were suffering. And nothing ever happened. Now, the rhyme scheme is quite interesting
in this poem. So, it’s ‘ABBAC’, and you can see what
that means – the first line rhymes with the fourth; the second rhymes with the third;
and the final line doesn’t rhyme with any of the previous lines. And there are a few things you can say about
the rhyme scheme. So, the way in which the first four lines
establish a rhyme pattern, only for that to be broken down in the final line, reflects
the building momentum and anticipation of battle which is never realized. So, essentially, the rhyme scheme backs up
the structure of each stanza like I’ve just talked about. And the rhyme scheme, as we know, stays this
way throughout the entire poem. Now, it’s quite interesting to think about
just how long this poem is. And that’s why we’re already 16 minutes in
and quite early into our analysis – because there is so much that actually just takes
place in this poem. And the rhyme scheme stays this way throughout
the whole poem with its repetitive nature reflecting the repetitive and futile situation
that the soldiers are in. Just as the poem stays the same, so does the
situation for the soldiers. They’re stuck in this cold waiting. However, the rhymes in ‘Exposure’ are
not full rhymes, and that reflects the unease of the situation. The poet employs what is known as ‘pararhyme’. And this is where – and this is quite a
complex thing; it’s very clever – two end-of-line words contain the same consonant
sounds but not the same vowels. So if we look at these four lines – ‘knive
us’, ‘silent’, ‘salient’, and ‘nervous’ – now, what’s going on here? We can see that ‘knive us’ is a pararhyme
with ‘nervous’. The consonant sounds ‘nuh’ and ‘ss’
are the same, even though the vowel sounds which we have as the ‘i’ and the ‘uh’
are different. The use of pararhyme basically gives the poem
a permanent sense of being nervously on edge, sort of incomplete, not quite right. And the soldiers are ultimately denied the
satisfaction that would come with full rhyme. The rhyme is forced to be incomplete, imperfect. And this perfection and closure of full rhyme
is denied the poem just as the perfection and closure of the situation in the war is
denied the soldiers. Now, if we look at the final lines of each
verse, because of the strict rhyme scheme which we have with the first four lines of
each stanza having this ‘ABBA’ rhyme scheme, the fifth line, because it actually doesn’t
fit that rhyme scheme, it stands out. So, basically, it’s quite interesting to look
at. Well, not only what does the poet do but what
don’t they do? So when the line doesn’t rhyme with anything,
why is that? And the final lines are really important. So if we look at the final lines of the final
four verses, we have – ‘What are we doing here?’ ‘Is it that we’re dying?’ ‘We turn back to our dying’, ‘For love
of God is dying’. And what’s interesting here is how these stanza
endings relate to each other. The second one – ‘Is it that we’re dying?’ – actually answers the question, ‘What
are we doing here?’ And then, we have this third and final one
which is a response to this. So, essentially, the poet is asking, “What
are we doing here? Are we dying?” We’re focusing on dying for the love of God
is dying. Now, as I said earlier, the final line is
deliberately ambiguous. But, knowing how Owen had abandoned religion,
it’s interesting to think, “Well, is he actually saying something religious here? Is he saying something about God?” because
we know that he had rejected the church. So we could read the line to suggest that
people are losing their religious beliefs when exposed to the horrors of war. And many people did feel that the horrors
of war challenged their belief in God causing them to ultimately question, “How can there
be a God in a world where there’s so much evil and suffering?” In another of Owen’s poems ‘Greater Love’
he writes ‘God seems not to care.’ So, that sort of backs up the idea of war
causing mankind to question the existence of God. But there is another interpretation of this
word ‘dying’. The ‘dying’ could be a reference to Christ’s
death on the cross. You see, the Christian belief is that Jesus
came to the world to die for our sins, to redeem us, and forgive us. And Owen makes this likeness here between
the soldiers and Christ, ultimately saying that the soldiers are Christ-like characters. They sacrificially die to save others. And, of course, this is the ideology behind
war – that soldiers fight so that civilians that can be free. I talked earlier about how Owen was a big
fan of John Keats. Now, we saw in ‘Bayonet Charge’ – there’s
a video on that on my channel – that Ted Hughes mirrored the opening of ‘Bayonet
Charge’ on the Owen poem ‘Spring Offensive’. And Owen does the same in ‘Exposure’. His opening line mirrors that of ‘Ode to
a Nightingale’ by John Keats. Now, there are lots of similarities between
the work of John Keats and this poem. Lots of assonance, lots of particular poetic
techniques, the fact that both poems are eight verses in length. But the main thing I want to look at is the
way that we have ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ with its opening line – ‘My heart aches’
– and that clearly links to the opening line of ‘Exposure’ – ‘Our brains ache’. Now, what do we know? Well, we know that Owen was a huge fan of
Keats. But why does he have this intertextual linking? Is it just a fan showing his appreciation? Well, not really. See, Keats was a Romantic poet. He used imagery of nature to explore human
emotion, and we could say that Owen is highlighting the darker side of this, where the natural
world of a frost and crusted battlefield can tell us something about humankind and its
inherent capacity for evil. In the Keats poem, his heart was aching with
happiness as he listened to the singing of a bird. But for Owen and his fellow soldiers, it’s
their heads which ache. And Keats was able to become numb through
sharing in the joy of the songbird, whereas Owen and the soldiers are numb through the
bitter cold. So what is the tone of this literary allusion? Well, Douglas Kerr calls it a provocation,
and he made a really good point which is that the quarrel is not so much over the nature
of nature. Keats finds nature lovely; Owen finds it brutal. And that’s just a very simplistic reference
to make, but actually what’s being pointed out here is about the nature of poetry, and
what a poem should be, and what a poem should be about. You see, Keats was Owen’s first model of
what a poet should be. And what he had learned from Keats was that
poem should be beautiful. Beauty is truth and so on. But, in 1917 after his war experience and
after reading Sassoon, Owen had changed his mind and saw that, sometimes, a poem has to
deal with ugliness and horror. All a poet can do is warn, and that is why
the true poet must be truthful. So it’s not really a question of whether nature
is cruel or not, but a question of what poetry is for. So we can see the allusion to the Keats poem
is Owen’s way of saying, “Look. What is poetry about? If you witness evil, you’ve got to express
that evil in poetry.” Very interesting. There’s also some biblical imagery in the
poem when Owen describes how the distant sound of gunfire is like a dull rumour of some other
war. He’s deliberately referencing biblical writings
concerning the end of the world. In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 24, Jesus
is talking about the end of the world, whether people will be able to predict when it’s coming
and say, “Oh no. These are the signs it’s coming.” Jesus says, “You will hear of wars and rumours
of wars.” So look at that. Owen says, ‘… like a dull rumour of some
other war’. Jesus says, “You will hear of wars and rumours
of wars.” It’s definitely a religious link there to
the Bible. Owen is probably making the point that this
situation they’re in feels like the end of the world has arrived for the poor soldiers. There’s a lot of personification in the poem. Remember, what Owen is trying to do is to
highlight how weather is more dangerous than – at one point he even calls them – ‘the
less deadly bullets’. So, if you’re trying to say that weather is
dangerous, then personification is a great technique. And we see numerous examples of a personification
where human attributes are given to the weather which is, of course, not human. So we have ‘winds that knive us’. You know the wind can’t really knife you,
but it does in the poem. The gusts are ‘mad’; dawn is ‘massing’;
air is shuddering; and the snowflakes are ‘fingering’ the faces. So, all of this personification is really
important. If a poet does something once, it’s not necessarily
a huge thing to analyze. But if they’re doing something time and time
again, we need to think about why is that. And, of course, this overwhelming use of personification
presents the idea that nature is more deadly than enemy soldiers, and Owen takes it one
step further when he uses military imagery to describe the rain. He describes the rain, says that it attacks
once more in ranks. And, clearly, there’s very little difference
between the enemy soldiers and the weather to Owen and his comrades. Both are slowly but surely killing them. There’s some sibilance in the poem and, hopefully,
you spotted it as I read it. Sibilance, the repetition of soft ‘ss’,
‘sh’ sounds. It creates a hissing sound, so we’ve got ‘sudden
successive flights of bullets streaked the silence’. And in the same verse, ‘pale flakes with
fingering stealth come feeling for our faces’. Now, sibilance is one of those things that
there are sort of different levels of analysis. And none of them are wrong. You can come up with your own, and I would
love you in the comment section to put an analysis of what does the sibilance achieve
here. Now, this verse, this stanza is describing
when they hear the gunshot, so you could say that the ‘ss’ ‘ss’ ‘ss’ ‘ff’
‘ff’ ‘ff’ is a little bit like the sound of bullets passing overhead. Or you could say that these are the sounds
shivering soldiers would make. And we know with sibilance that it’s a very
sinister sound. It reminds us of the hissing of a snake, and
it really just creates this kind of negative atmosphere that reminds the reader of the
constant threat of the environment the soldiers are in. And there’s also caesura as well. Caesura is where we stop midline in a poem
due to the use of punctuation beyond a comma really. So we can see there is a lot of caesura with
a lot of punctuation that makes us stop in this verse here. Slowly our ghosts drag home: glimpsing the
sunk fires, glozed With crusted dark-red jewels; crickets jingle
there; For hours the innocent mice rejoice: the house
is theirs; Shutters and doors, all closed: on us the
doors are closed, – We turn back to our dying. And this is the first time in the poem where
punctuation beyond the comma is used midline. Now why is that? Well, if we think about what this stanza is
about, it’s basically saying that the soldiers are thinking back to home. And I think the punctuation usage creates
a division on each line reflecting the division caused by war between those at home and the
present setting for the soldiers in a freezing-cold trench. Now, finally, I want to look at the ending. The ending of the poem is really important. We know that it ends with the line ‘but
nothing happens’. If we’re saying that the poem has established
that the soldiers see themselves as a necessary sacrifice to save the happy lives of the public
and that’s what they’re doing, then the ending of the poem is very depressing and bleak because
it goes to this line ‘but nothing happens’. And, structurally, the poem ends as it began
with the refrain ‘but nothing happens’. And this repetition of the ending, this repetition
of them – when you get to the end of the poem – going back to the start creates a
cyclical structure. The poem ends up back where it started, highlighting
again the futility of the war, the fact that nothing has been achieved. They’re just slowly dying. Guys, I hope you found this video useful. If you stuck with it to 28 minutes, you’ve
done brilliantly. Please do subscribe to the channel, and thank
you for watching.

100 Replies to “Wilfred Owen: ‘Exposure’ – Mr Bruff Analysis

  1. Wow, thank you! This video just helped me fill two A4 sides with everything. I've also done this with 'Ozymandias' and it really does help in lesson. Greatly appreciated. 🙂

  2. 😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴💤💤💤💤💤💤💤💤💤💤💤💤💤💤💤💤💤🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄

  3. Tysm, I needed some extra annotations on this because I don't have much on my anthology. Thanks sir😄

  4. The paratactic language found in line 4 (Worried by silence, sentries whisper, curious, nervous) also accentuates the build up of tension- the soldiers are losing their cognitive ability and are omitting conjunctions due to their ‘aching’ brains

  5. Thanks so much this is really useful- does anyone know if we still have to include the effect on the reader I was told it was taken out and we no longer get marks from it?

  6. The sibilance could be interpreted as soldiers gathered around in small groups (linking to the amount of sibilance to the amount of soldiers ) and the ss sound created by sibilance could be the soldiers in the tension of the moment telling each other to hush as their tension builds furthermore adding to the fact the nothing happens, like in a game of hide and seek waiting to be caught the tension builds but then they walk past and nothing happens but the tension is still there and you tell each other to shh. Thank you by the way for this extremely helpful video.

  7. Sibilance = hissing of a snake. Possible biblical references to a serpent, and describing the weather as being just as deadly and dangerous as the serpent that tempts adam and eve in the bible. This again makes a reference to God and how evil is taking over, yet God is doing nothing to help even though he is known as being omnipotent.

  8. Our teacher genuinely set watching this video as our homework
    Congratulations you've made it 😂

  9. Could the sibilance represent a ‘shhh’ sound representing how people didn’t want to hear the true horrors of war or is that too ambiguous?

  10. Sibilence mimicks to callous nature of the wind, furthermore the "sss" assonance created by the sibelence by Wilfred Owen drawing connatations of animals such as snakes emphasing the malign and insidious nature of the nature. There us even allusion to Adam and Eve (Genesis) the idea that the mortal reckoning created by God's fury for mankinds sins is being endured by soldiers at the battle front.

  11. top tip for anyone who is cramming like me, set the speed of the video to 1.5 so you can go through all the poems quickly.

  12. sibilance-S-snake-evil-constant dull noise as well no high or low tone to create tension shows how long war is

  13. can you please point out all the metaphors,similes and alliteration etc… also its purpose for being there

  14. lol I just told my mum that my predicted grade was an 8 and she said thats not good enough 😉 talk about pushy parents am I right? 😉

  15. We are here because our teachers have failed us…
    But our saviour Mr Bruff is standing on the horizon.

    Thank you great human ✋🤚👇

  16. How would you even use the context of john keats in the exposure analysis? Could you use his reference or is this bit of context just something useful we could know?

  17. we didn’t even start poems until after christmas of year 11 it’s now march and i don’t understand anything 🤦🏽‍♀️

  18. Just wanted to give my personal take on the line “dawn massing east her melancholy army”.
    The noun “dawn” may link to ideas of happiness and warmth which may reflect the purpose of the soldiers fighting but also is presented to those oblivious to it’s harsh nature, criticising how it is seen as a positive, possibly divine, force.
    Just my thoughts, please reply to let me know your views 🙂

  19. I think the constant repetition of the word 'dying' in the refrains all throughout the poem reflect the fact that the soldiers are suffering a long, drawn-out death due to nature. Even when some soldiers do eventually die in the last verse, 'nothing happens' as a result – the soldiers' agonising deaths are shown to just be completely futile.
    We should be shocked by the fact that some soldiers have actually died, but by this point everyone has become so numbed by the harsh weather conditions that some actual human deaths are just something else amongst the normal suffering the soldiers see everyday – in fact, it's like 'nothing' has even happened…

  20. could you say that as owen says about gods love dying, that society has caused too many issues that he just can not help anymore?

  21. the last time I got taught this poem was in year 8 and the exam is tomorrow im going to watch this 3 times

  22. I was thinking the sibilance with the successive flights of bullets could represent the breathing patterns of the soldiers which reinforces the idea that they are nervous and continuously on edge, also the use of “the” could identify the intake of breath and tue slowing down of the hyperventilating soldiers

  23. I honestly mean this. I cannot thank you enough for helping me. You have made my exams that little less stressful 🙂

  24. You helped me analyse poetry at GCSE and now you've done it again for my A-levels. This is one of the poems my class has studied from the Wilfred Owen anthology for our 'WWI and its aftermath' paper, but Exposure has to be one of my favourites. Your analysis is and has always been fantastic. Thank you so much! 🙂

  25. Just want to tell you what an amazing thing it is that you're doing. You're helping a lot of students who perhaps didn't have the best of teachers and were falling behind because of this. Thank you!

  26. regarding sibilance: the words have an almost onomatopoeic effect, bringing to the audience the shivering and whispering in the trenches,

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