Topic: Essays

Last updated: February 24, 2019

Disabled is a poem by Wilfred Owen, written in 1917 during the great war about a young man who makes a drunken decision to join the army as an infantry soldier. Throughout the poem, it switches between the soldier’s years as an adolescent and his life post-war where he has been compelled to have limbs removed due to injuries sustained in battle. This poem will be compared to Refugee Blues, written by W.H.

Auden during the second world war in 1939. Auden writes about German Jews who have been forced to escape from Europe during the reign of Adolf Hitler. Contrasts are made between aspects observed by the speaker and the type of life and conditions they are currently living in, which portray large amounts of discrimination and dehumanisation.Disabled is made up of seven stanzas that follow a very irregular pattern and almost looks messy on the page, this is displayed by the length of stanzas which average six to eight lines. This irregularity gives the reader an impression that the young man’s life is a chaotic and is not what it used to be before he sustained his injuries.

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An exception to this layout is stanza six which is significantly shorter than the rest. The reason this it is so short is to highlight the return from war and how he was not greeted with crowds of people cheering for him as a hero, instead he is underwhelmed by the response he received as only one man “brought him fruits”. Owens piece transitions mainly between past and present to give an account of what his life was like as youth and his current state, the frequent switch between these tenses also emphasises the conflict and shows how hectic it is inside his mind. However, the last stanza is written in a tense that suggests the ex-soldiers future which states that there is not much of a life worth living anymore and there’s little he can do to change these conditions, all in the name of fighting for his country. Refugee Blues in comparison has twelve stanzas that follow a regular pattern, each stanza is similar in length and all have three lines.


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